Monday, July 16, 2018

Making a Bipolar Type II Instruction Manual: Part 3: Symptom Hyper-Awareness

This is one of the most familiar things I'm feeling, but I have this new framework to categorize it so it bothers me both more and less than before. (As if I could experience anything without some kind of paradox.)

I am so aware of my symptoms.

I've always been a meta-thinker; I think a lot about my thought patterns and psychology. (Oh, are you new here? Hi! Welcome to the utter batshit chaos. Pull up a teetering pile of books or something and get cozy with the crazy.)

I'm one of those who leaves a social event or a visit with a friend and then analyzes every awkward thing I said, every time my compulsive speech rammed over people or a simple statement meandered for twenty minutes.

Every time I blurted out a serious overshare and covered it up with THE MOST EXTRA BEHAVIOR EVER because of course I don't care I am gregarious AF get on my level I am a goddamn glittering galactic goddessssss!!!



{i am actually a tiny little snake chewing through its tail with anxiety waiting to crawl back into my hole and freaking at how oh my gods i'm making everyone so fucking uncomfortable why am i like this why'd i just say that wait i know why now but i'm still LIKE THIS oh my shit why why whyyyyyy???}

So yes: I've always done this. But now, I know the names of things (like this phrase that was a revelation: "pressured speech") and that yes, they are symptomatic of a hypomanic state. So there's that sense of relief I felt when S explained that's part of the disorder. The. "Oh, wow! I'm not a rude ass who just can't follow conversational etiquette."

But it frustrates me, too, that although I know it's symptomatic I still can't control it yet.

But with therapy and a lot of work I can learn to manage this, my most shameful symptom. (Also the shame & guilt show, but I won't take you into a spiral that could go on for 50,000 words.)

Speaking of therapy, I have found a counselor, V, who seems to be an absolute jewel. There is the tiny hitch that my Medicare won't cover anyone who isn't an MD or DO. Her practice has a lovely program for patients who have low income and are underinsured, so my sessions are a reduced fee. They are however, costing me.

Money's a little just... nope.

So if you'd like to buy me a coffee, you can do that here.

I'm still trying to get hold of my bill from the psych hospital. Can't make a fundraiser page if you don't have a goddamned goal. 

I'm also hoping to get a Patreon set up but i'm also um hypomanic and thinking I can do all the projects & conquer the universe but i can't i only have the GREAT HUGE IDEAS infinity stone not the physical energy and mental organization to follow through infinity stones so it may be a while to determine what rewards I can offer supporters and how to tier them and such.

So... story of my life: Everything is ridiculously overwhelming when it involves actual details.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Making a Bipolar Type II Instruction Manual: Part 2 'Zombie Balloon & the Dragon'

Dear Lamotrigine (brand name Lamictal),

Where've you been all my adult life?
Where were you when I couldn't move for an hour or two because of paralytic depression or when I only made myself move because the kid needed a peanut butter sammie and it was like walking uphill with lead boots and the air was viscous?

Thing about trying to write a tongue-in-cheek bipolar guidebook as you navigate the treatment is the treatment is a fucking hellscape in the beginning.

The first medicine we tried was quetiapine (Seroquel). I was a floating weird zombie for a couple of days and the constant leg and feet motion thing I have became a horrible beast trying to crawl its way out of my skin. That segued into a hypomanic episode that skirted the edges of actual mania and I just... NOPE. Not my drug.

So S switched me to lamotrigine. This is one that has to be titrated up to the full dose. (That's like weaning but backward if you're not a spoonie who needs a whole box or tiny cute briefcase for her meds.) At 25mg I felt no difference at all which, after a week and a half as a Twitchy Zombie Balloon was fine.

Then it was time to double that dose and I was scared. Having been through medicine triggered mania twice in the past few months I just wanted to burrow away and never deal with bipolar ever again and rewind and just be not diagnosed and pretend I was still a "regular" depressive who can't focus on anything ever ever ever.

But I reminded myself of the times I went off my SSRIs.
The severity of my mood dysregulation.
How badly my lack of concentration is affecting my life.
The fact that lamotrigine can help headaches. (!!!)
That stress is the cause of tension headache. (Right there on the tin.)

So I doubled my dose, and lo—

There were no initial adverse effects. And slowly it dawned upon me that HEY most (I'll get to that) of my emotions are appropriate in type and severity to the situation.

For me.

They're still pretty fucking extra, which is good. Because I am an EXTRA BITCH. And I was terrified that treatment would turn me into some bland robo-Heidi. Meaning some not-Heidi.

The only thing is... I'm angry. I'm like mythically angry. I went Dragon on a friend this weekend and after apologizing I was telling him I don't have a "mildly annoyed" register anymore. I just get royally pissed and instead of locking that shit down in the name of Hurt No One's Feelings Ever I just unleash all the fury of Hell upon the world.

It feels like a volcano that's been stoppered for forty years, all the lava and steam held in. Then the cork popped and oops, it seems it's a bottomless volcano that goes to the very mantle of the earth and cannot be stopped.

I used to be so confrontation-averse and now I just breathe fire and lava everywhere and I'm having quite a lot of trouble processing this.

While I'm extremely proud of the strength of this Dragon self, I take no pleasure in being hurtful. And the goal is to feel and express emotions apprortiately. But I don't really know what appropriate anger looks like for me. And yeah—I'm still waiting to get into a therapist.

I read, and it tickles me, that this sort of compartmentalization thing—calling my angry self The Dragon, for instance—is a dissociative thing that's common with bipolar people.

So that's where I am now: Still Extra as Fuck but far less depressed and people now whisper in my fiery wake, "Don't Poke the Dragon."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday Noon, a poem for mom

You took a last breath
with summer light reaching
in a hundred horizons
through slats in window shades.

It was a Tuesday noon
and the sun arranged
that just for you, collector of pretty
sunshine things & cobalt blue.

Seventeen years on and
I can’t breathe when the day
comes around, impossible still

as the sun
setting at noon.

——————

for mom, 2018

(c) Heidi Richardson Evans