Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making A Bipolar Type II Instruction Manual in Real Time: Chapter 1 'Let's Do Get Help'

Trigger Warning: anxiety, depression
brief mention of suicidal ideation

So, I disappear from the blog pretty often because the PC is the Evil Blue Light Emitting Box of Headache Triggering Badness. The headaches are under much better control lately but I super disappeared for a while anyway.

I needed to have some downtime. I was gathering myself to write about an experience I had this spring. I’m not delving deep right now, just acknowledging that it happened.

I had a psych crisis in April and had to be hospitalized for a few days. I was extremely unstable and it had been building for a while, but the past few years things have been notably worse. The nearly constant pain of the headaches tipped me into what was like something I’ve never really felt this intensely before. My always-mercurial moods were changing to extremes I couldn’t navigate, cycling between numb paralytic depression to a severe panic attack to dissociative states within a few minutes. It was terrifying.

Me, pretty much all of March and April. Fun.
It really sucked goat balls in there, but I met some incredible people. Mostly they were patients. Please note my extreme shade at the doctors and nurses. Story for another time.

Anyway, I got stabilized back to the normal I’d been used to of late. Which is to say, not very, but I wasn’t obsessively thinking of self-harm. So I got to be not in a psych hospital on my birthday, which was a peachy keen treat.

Obviously I needed follow-up care. I called around and found a treatment center that would see me based on income because my copays even with my Medicare are FUCKING INSANE. 

I had to wait two months for the new therapist, and I was scared shitless. Remember the extreme shade I threw at the doctor from the clinic? She'd given me a drug from a class I'd told her explicitly I couldn't take, and it threw me into a manic episode. It was horrible so I was feeling extra skittish about new psych practices.

But obviously treatment was necessary.

Being my obsessive geek self, I couldn't stop thinking how this scene perfectly illustrated my hesitance about seeking treatment:


So I let my rational self hurl my crazy at S, my new psychiatric NP.

And holy fucking shit.

I didn't expect to see a new psychiatric provider and just jump neurodivergent spectrums at age 42.

I expected to hear that my ADHD had become far, far worse than it's ever been and that maybe some (or even most?) of my anxiety symptoms were actually sneaky hyperactivity impulses being thwarted by a body that can't be in motion as much as a body should be.

I've always crashed over social norms during conversations like a hundred caffeinated bulls in a hundred earthquaking china shops, so yeah, I suspected my ADHD was very, very out of hand.

But stimulant medications for ADHD don't work for me because of my generalized anxiety disorder. No questioning the diagnosis: I have the characteristics; the treatment just doesn't work. It happens.

So I was nervous energy tweeting as I approached appointment time, and I shared my Thor & Loki "Get Help" scene, then tweeted my three diagnoses, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. People have multiple diagnoses. Whatever.

I definitely did not expect to hear what S, my new nurse practitioner, told me. Within two minutes she said she thought I was bipolar type two, anxious distressed. She went through a good, thorough interview to confim and the diagnosis fits like the DSM sees into my brain.

So to be clear: My surprise isn't because the diagnosis doesn't make so much sense. I'm surprised because I'd suspected I was bipolar back in college, and my psychiatrist then was adamant that I wasn't. Therapists and other psychiatrists over the years supported that, so I closed that door in my mind.

But when she said it, it was a key fitting into place with a perfect series of clicks, tumblers lining up and everything falling into place.

Bipolar Type II is very hard to nail down, it turns out, and it's extremely common for depressives to be diagnosed with it later. S told me it often shows up as an epic breakdown in the twenties or forties and I had both. (She was pretty salty about the fact that it's so common but practitioners are so hesitant to diagnose it.)

It's a wild fucking ride already and I've had all of two days for the information to sink in. I really want an instruction manual for this shit and there isn't one. So hey. I'm going to share what I can (as I do) and maybe someone else finds this relatable.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I am Heidi's Occipital Nerve

All the nerves you see hurt, except for some reason, the one under my lip.
image credit
... And, it seems, I fucking hate her.

(I'm also her excuse for never posting. But 'BONERS, it is a seriously good excuse.)

Welp. I sat down to write an actual narrative about all this with PLENTY of snark included* but I'm taking two anti-convulsants now, so you're lucky you're even getting English syntax. 

In fact, I just tried to smash those together and type
"Englysh" so yeeeaaahhh: not so much: You get an info dump.

I have a new CT scan next week to make sure there's no new fuckery, but current diagnosis is Occipital Neuralgia, in my case from disc failure causing compression. My research finds it's usually between the C1 and C2 vertebrae. The scan I had in July showed my degenerative disc disease was definitely affecting the cervical discs.

The diagnosis from
my current/former neurologist, Dr. You're SO Goddamn Fired It's Hilarious**. The other team members are Dr. Amazing, my GP and Dr. Pain Manager, who is equally fabulous. 

So Occipital Neuralgia is like having a migraine all the time or almost all the time--I do have days like today when it's just pressure, like I'm wearing overly tight earmuffs at my temples with random "stabbies," the lightning-like pain people with sciatica know too well.

Light in my eyes is a sonofabitch, and I'm going to have to go rest in the dark pretty much right now.
I miss this space so much. I miss... everything? so much. Shane and Molly and my family are fucking amazing and I would absolutely not have made it through the past year without their support and the constant virtual hugs and listening from Elizabeth and Celeste.

I adore y'all and the whole landscape of my life this past year is just unrecognizable to me without you two amazing stars.

*I am v v v unhappy with one of my doctors but mblergh the story's too long for my brain to tell right now.
**OOPS I snarked anyway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Was Out-Gothed So Hard

Gather ‘round, darklings, for it’s story time. Mama Bones’ gotta let this toner sit on my hair a spell so I’m a silvery platinum goth, not some golden-blonde normal person.
So I’m at the drug store with Bird and I’m buying last minute 50% off shit: black velvet fake stilleto nails, huge lashes, etc. Sahmain cometh, y’know? And I’m babbling about how much we love Halloween to the cashier.

I’ve seen her a lot here. Her ‘holler’ accent is mighty: It crushes my twang. That’s typical for these parts, but I admit that I’ve filed her in my mind as Sweet Older Country-Type Lady.

But y’all.

Heh. This woman... so, she tells me her fam is SUPER into it, too. They used to dress her brother as a scarecrow dummy and he’d be corpse-still until the perfect moment to spring up and scare the holy hillbilly Protestant JESUS out of trick-or-treat-ers. And their parents.
And probably some cats.
So she goes on to tell us they used to turn their lawn into a graveyard and she just casually as fuck drops the fact that her neighbors have a coffin they let her borrow, and even more stunningly casually she says, "They usually sleep in it," and blows right past that with no explanation whatsoever. There's no tone of joke delivery. Nothing at all to indicate that there is anything at all unusual about sleeping in a coffin. We finish our mutual celebration of Halloween anticipation and Birdy and I head to the car. 
Mollz says, "So I'm picturing 'What We Do in the Shadows'. You?"
I tell her "Yeah... or those goths that goth so hard they literally live like vampires."
We then in unison say, "What the fuh?" and "What the fuck?" and giggle all the way home.