My Journey With:

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) ~ Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) ~ Focal Impaired Awareness (Complex Partial) Seizures ~ Fibromyalgia ~ Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) ~ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) ~ TMJ Dysfunction ~ Bipolar Disorder Type I Rapid Cycling ~ Migraines ~ Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) ~ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ~ Keratosis Pilaris (KP) ~ Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) ~ Panic Disorder ~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) ~ Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) ~ Nonsuicidal Self-Injury (Self-Harm) ~ Piezogenic Pedal Papules ~ Hashimoto's Thyroiditis ~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ~ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ~ Specific Phobias ~ Chronic Headaches

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Raw Feelings and Experiences With Bipolar Disorder

I had a hypomanic episode in November, which by late November or early December it turned into a depressive episode. I've been depressed for quite some time. It's only been a few weeks, but it seems like years. Sometimes I'm numb inside, other times I'm drowning in an unbearable dark sadness. I'm having panic attacks a lot, and when my pain is bad it gives me more anxiety than normal, and even more panic attacks. I feel so utterly alone inside. I don't like being awake and conscious. I feel like the world around me is happening like usual and I'm an invisible lost person standing in the thick of it, shouting and waving my arms, while understanding but not understanding how everyone else goes about so normal. DH has been wonderful to me. Some days he's the only person on Earth I'm not irritated with.

Some people don't realize that irritation is also a symptom of depression. A bipolar person being irritable to you when they're depressed doesn't necessarily mean you did anything wrong, and it doesn't necessarily mean they are really angry with you. When you're bipolar and in an episode your world view can get so messed up that it's like looking through a kaleidoscope. It's just as hard for the bipolar person to know how they'll feel in 10 minutes as it is for you to know. If we could control our moods, we would, as no one wants to suffer the roller coaster bipolar disorder takes them on.

I have chosen to be on Geodon for the past eight years, which is an atypical antipsychotic. Most bipolar people I've met have been on an atypical antipsychotic because it also helps stabilize bipolar moods, even though it was invented to help with psychosis in schizophrenia. It also fights bipolar psychosis, something that is still frowned upon for speaking out about. Geodon has the least side effects of all of the atypical antipsychotics. It is weight neutral and has a lower chance of causing diabetes and metabolic syndrome than the other atypical antipsychotics. However it can cause QT prolongation (a heart rhythm problem), and must be taken with a full meal. The chances of QT prolongation increase when taken with certain medications, like benedryl. I've used other medications that controlled certain aspects of my bipolar better, but the side effects were unbearable. Geodon doesn't do a lot for my hallucinations, but it seems to be pretty good at keeping mania and hypomania away. Of course sometimes I'll still get manic (I have bipolar 1) or hypomanic. My medicines don't seem to do as well for my depression. I don't want to go off my anti-depressant, Cymbalta, because it also fights fibromyalgia pain. I'm on Lamictal as a mood stabilizer and for my seizures. Trileptal, another mood stabilizer that I've found helps, also fights seizures, but there are more side effects and you can't take muscle relaxers with it. I also don't know if it will have my seizures under control, and I don't want to mess with my Lamictal now that I finally do have them under control. So, honestly, I have no idea what to do. I see my doctor this week, so I'll obviously be talking to her about it.

People want to hear about these romanticized versions of bipolar, ones that don't exist in real life. Yes, most people with bipolar are gifted artistically, but there is so, so much more to it than that. Bipolar isn't a romantic disorder of intense feelings and a quirky personality. Bipolar is when you find yourself hugging your knees on the floor of the bottom of your closet, because you don't want anyone to hear how loud you are crying. Bipolar is when you max out your credit cards in a month. Bipolar is seeing demons run at you, faces coming out of the wall, and seeing huge bugs everywhere that aren't really there. Bipolar is driving 100 mph down the interstate racing some rednecks you've never met. Bipolar is pain, both mental and physical. Bipolar is when you go to an important function, and you either make a fool out of yourself because you're manic, or you cry through it all because you're depressed. Bipolar is knowing you may never be able to breastfeed because all psychotropic medications are secreted into breast milk. Bipolar is knowing that after giving birth you're at high risk for postpartum psychosis, which is extremely dangerous. Bipolar is not being able to make friends because other people can tell there's something different about you. Bipolar is being told by your mom you "look like a r*tarded person" because you have no facial affect (don't show facial expressions) when you get very, very depressed. Bipolar is constantly having one suicide plan and a back up one, just in case, even when you're doing great and have no plans to die. Bipolar is being asked in public in a loud singsongy voice "Now Amy...did you take your meds today?" Bipolar is knowing all your relatives are talking about you in a bad way for something you can't help. Bipolar means not being taken seriously by doctors because once they hear that diagnosis they attribute every single symptom you have to bipolar and look no further. Bipolar is rapid large amounts of weight gain from medicines, then looking in the mirror and seeing a round face you don't recognize. Bipolar is the shame you feel when people you saw six months ago no longer recognize you from the weight gain. Bipolar is when you've had sex with three strangers that month when you were a virgin the month before. Bipolar is having to not fulfill promises sometimes because you can't rely on your own mind and how you will be psychologically from one moment to the next. Bipolar is experiencing something called a mixed episode, that has elements of both mania and depression, and is very hard to treat. Bipolar is rocking under the desk and crying on your fifth visit to the psych ward because you don't want to be there and the only person who would really talk to you at all got discharged. Bipolar is anger you don't know how to handle, so you turn inside, then punish your body with sharp instruments, followed by severe guilt, embarrassment, shame, and self loathing...for the past twenty-one years. Bipolar is becoming a great actress, so no one on the outside will know there's something broken about you. Bipolar is daytime sleepiness from medications to the point of falling asleep driving, and very often not sleeping at night while you brain races. Bipolar is coming up with the best idea in the whole world, only to realize when the mania is over the idea was just idiotic. Bipolar is that vile thing that took my dreams away. It didn't just take my dreams away, but crushed them, forcing me to find new dreams. These are all just a portion my experiences being bipolar.  It can happen to any gender, and race, any class, anyone. Once you get it then it never goes away. It can be managed. That's what they tell us anyway, and we're supposed to believe it.

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