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About crazy_cat_lady

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    The show must go on.

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    I'd rather spend time with my pets than with other people.
    Human interaction scares and confuses me.

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  1. Hi all, it's been awhile... For the past 5 months I've been dating a guy who is in the army. He is an amazing person, we are a mirror of each other's best qualities, he accepts my MI without question and has researched the hell out of how to help me or just be there for me when I'm going through hard times, be they hypomanic or depressive. (In 8 years with my ex-husband, he never put in that kind of effort and often just told me to get it together). He has motivated me to work through my social anxiety by -- again -- researching how to support me when we go out or meet his friends. So long story short, he is a great guy, also closer to my age range (3 yrs vs. 16 yrs, and we're both around the 30-yr old mark). I could gush and gush but I digress. Side note: Since my divorce earlier this year, our close mutual friends have sided with my ex, or I've had to end my friendship with them, so my social circle has significantly decreased to one close friend. I know it hasn't been a long time dating. I know I fall hard and fast for the right people. I also know I've never felt as emotionally secure, comfortable, and connected with anyone else, even with my ex-husband during our best times. Since he is in the army, he is away a lot on courses, exercises, or disaster relief (and a lengthy deployment to the Middle East next year, which I'm not even going to dwell on yet). And I find it incredibly difficult to cope with missing him when he is on extended absences. When we started dating, for the first 6 weeks he was teaching a course 2 hours away, 5 days a week, so he'd be home only on weekends. That was okay, it was just the way things were but I still counted down the days and hours until he came home again. It's not so bad when it's just for a few days, or 5 days a week, because we still text and talk on the phone nearly every day. When he was doing natural disaster relief in August, we didn't know when he would be home, he often had no cell reception, and we spoke once or twice a week. (By no means am I minimizing the need for aid to those communities, but I selfishly want him at home.) The night before he left, I broke my finger at work and I'm off work until late November with minimal use of my right hand, so I was at home with the dog and had little else. At times I just stayed in bed and cried. During every absence longer than a week, it's taken a maximum of 4 days for me to emotionally fall apart and him have to deal with me over the phone in what limited ways he can. My very few friends were busy and I didn't see them much. I never realized loneliness could physically hurt. When he is home, it feels like everything was worth it, missing him, waiting for him. But I feel a frantic need to be with him as much as possible because I know he will be sent away again, and soon it will be a lengthy deployment to another continent, likely to the Middle East. I'm not even allowing myself to dwell on that nightmare yet. He is away right now for 5 days but due home tomorrow, and so far I haven't fallen apart at all, which is huge progress for me! For those who have dealt with relationships where your SO is frequently away (e.g. military, oil fields, etc), how do you maintain emotional regulation, especially when experiencing depressive episodes? I've posted in military spouse forums and talked to other people and it's always the same old "get a hobby, work overtime, work it off at the gym, see friends," but seriously, emotional regulation is a lot less simple than that when you're riding the bipolar rollercoaster. I've started to maintain a regular cleaning schedule to keep myself busy, but it isn't enough. My BF will be home for a total of 5 days in October, and off the grid for the rest. I still won't be back to work yet. And I'm dreading how I'm going to deal with it without having a complete skills breakdown from feeling so completely alone. My meds are stable, and I also see my pdoc on Monday. Sorry for the lengthy post... Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. You're right, it's only been a short time. But I've never experienced depression getting worse when I've started antidepressants in the past. Of course, I was on different med cocktails then... Thank you! Btw, do you take generic bupropion or the brand name? I've heard there is sometimes a discrepancy in effectiveness.
  3. Over the past 6 months or so, I've noticed that my depressive episodes have been getting worse. I finally went to see my pdoc and about 2 months ago, who prescribed Wellbutrin (I'm taking the generic bupropion). I've been seeing him regularly and titrated up to 300 mg. My manic episodes have been... controlled... as in, I haven't blown up my life lately. But every depressive episode is getting deeper and I am just at a loss as to how to handle it anymore. I have a high-stress job with a ca. 5 year burnout rate, and I know I have like zero work-life balance (which I am starting to work I am still too new at work to request general illness leave, which my pdoc recommended -- but it's essentially career suicide at this point. I actually feel like I've been more depressed since starting this new anti-depressant. But when it is hard to even move, when lying on the sofa and crying into my dog's neck on a near-daily basis is all I can do, I'm starting to feel like it's too much. I still ride the bipolar rollercoaster, and go up again. That's what has been giving me hope, that I know I will go through an up-swing again. I haven't been abusing my sleeping pills. I reduced my drinking to near-zero (I was verging on becoming alcoholic), and haven't even binged and purged. Wellbutrin has killed my appetite, so I eat twice a day, if that, without intending to restrict calories. I also finally reached out for help for my PTSD (after 10 years of silence), but it's a long waiting list for specialized counselling. I'm holding myself together, and at work I am switched on, but when I'm at home I can barely drag myself out of bed. I'm not entirely suffering in silence; my husband is trying his best to be helpful and understand, but how can I even explain that I don't even fucking know why I've been crying for an hour?! I am afraid of how deep these depressive episodes will go, and of what is at the bottom. Is this something that bipolar patients sometimes just go through for awhile, or a sign of a bigger problem? I'm afraid I'm losing myself in this.
  4. I have been repeatedly diagnosed as Bipolar Type II by actual mental health professionals, but thanks for the diagnosis. I had a very strong network of enablers, drank a lot, and did quite a few other dumb things to try to level out. Again, the fact that I survived for those few years off meds is practically miraculous. The first pdoc I saw after I finally went back to therapy said she was surprised I wasn't dead. I never said that people with Bipolar don't need meds, or can live indefinitely without them, and I sure as hell wasn't able to continue living without medication. Again though, thanks for diagnosing me as not Bipolar. How very enlightening, I'll be sure to let my psychiatrist know.
  5. Hi, I've noticed a number of posts about people taking bupriopin (generic Wellbutrin) 450XL, but I still have some other questions... I started taking Wellbutrin 150 mg about a month ago, and last week (?) and about 10 days ago my dose was increased to 300 mg. Obviously the higher dose is still building in my system... I'm taking it for bipolar II depression. I also take 425 mg of lamotrigine, and 2 mg of clonazepam (they're both split in the morning and at bedtime). Also zopiclone 15 mg when my anxiety is out of control; I very rarely take it as a last resort (I know all about its addictive potential). I've noticed a few changes since starting to take it. Mainly, I'm actually more depressed. My doctor wanted to titrate the dose fairly slowly to prevent inducing a manic episode. I felt a little bit better after about 2 weeks, but it's plateaued. Since I started to take bupropion, I've felt just... down. I'm basically going through all the typical symptoms of depression. At work I am turned way up; I don't stop finding stuff to do, and try to get ahead in paperwork, do my reports, etc. But on my break, I find myself feeling down again. I work out sometimes, but often I just get coffee and smoke, and sit in my car to avoid talking to coworkers. I have a pretty high-stress job (law enforcement), and when I come home after day shifts especially, I am so exhausted I can barely move. I love my job which is why I'm so switched on there. I know that can be a contributing factor, especially when work-life balance is way out of whack (I'm going to work on that). But nothing has improved since starting bupropion. I have less cravings for cigarettes (which is great! I'm hoping to quit by winter), and my appetite has noticeably decreased (not a great side effect for someone with a history of anorexia, because obviously I love it). I've taken nearly every antidepressant under the sun, and so many have side effects I absolutely hated, e.g. decreased sex drive, weight gain, etc. How long has it taken bupropion patients to notice effects on 300 mg, or did some not notice any? And is the increased depression common? I'd rather hear it from real people than just taking the word of my psychiatrist's pamphlets. Please, any responses would help.
  6. Recently a friend of mine posted some links on Facebook supporting people with mental illness going off their meds, along with some links to the Icarus Project. She went off her meds and started using medical marijuana and for her it worked, but it's not something that is a) a blanket solution, and b) it's not available to everyone. Since I was a teenager, I've encountered some people/groups/etc who consider mental illness to be a "gift," that it can foster creativity and that the psychiatric model stigmatizes those with MI. I'm posting this in the Bipolar forum because people with Bipolar are IMO and personal experience, generally those who kinda need meds in order to balance out the ups and downs, which can become dangerous if untreated. I am a huge proponent of de-stigmatizing mental illness, but again, IMO going med-free may not be the solution. I went off medication for about 2.5 years from when I was 18-21, and blew up my life numerous times. I created chaos and caused a lot of pain myself and those around me; I became violent at times, engaged in a lot of dangerous behaviour, some of which could have killed me, self-harmed a lot in different ways, and attempted suicide once. I'd been on medication since I was 12 and wanted to experience life without feeling like I was a caged animal (my pdoc at the time was a big proponent of medicating the shit out of youth and prescribed like, everything to me at some time or other). I was heavily medicated and slowly decreased until I stopped taking anything, without my pdoc's approval or guidance -- I simply stopped seeing him. However, my fiancé eventually gave me the ultimatum that I had to see a psychiatrist or we couldn't stay together. I resented him for it, but now I believe it was one of the best things he's ever done, because I've (mostly) stabilized, although I'll never get off the bipolar rollercoaster. Yes, I do find that some aspects of my life are dampened from medication -- I was a writer but I just don't do it as much anymore; I stopped painting unless I'm manic, and I don't always feel as much exuberance as I used to (I also stopped doing a lot of the stupid thrill-seeking shit I used to do though because common sense). So... I don't know. I wasn't "free" when I was off my meds; I was out of control (also was dealing with major Borderline shit). I don't want to go back to that. But some people feel very differently about it. I'm wondering what peoples' opinions are about being off meds, especially when you're living with Bipolar.
  7. I work in law enforcement. I talk to people a lot, but I don't have to be customer service-level friendly, and well, I like having authority. lol. Low-key days are great for getting my shit together and do administrative stuff like paperwork, and I thrive in the really intense situations when I have to trust my instincts, think on my feet, and communicate to my partner and to others. So far that's been the only job I've truly enjoyed. Other than that, I loved university. I studied criminology and I loved nearly every course I took. I've thought about going back for grad school for a while, but it's financially difficult. I've had a slew of customer service jobs from working in a bank to being a bridal consultant, and I was miserable in all of them. I worked for 3 years as an addictions counsellor and eventually realized that I lack the empathy to be a truly effective counsellor, so I quit and went into law enforcement, which had been my end game goal anyway.
  8. I'm currently between therapists, but I have the phone number for a tdoc who specializes in the field. I just need to call him, and that gives me a lot of anxiety on its own. My pdoc is basically just my prescription provider, but a friend of mine gave me the name and phone number for her psychiatrist who would probably be a better fit for me. I am planning on making an appointment to see my pdoc to discuss my medication situation, it's just hard to actually talk to him because he just lists off meds I could take and I never really feel like I accomplish anything. I might try to contact someone through my EAP, because supposedly they do offer services to people with mental illness, but they're tough to get in with.
  9. Yes, because it's illegal to even ask an applicant if they have a mental illness; denying employment to a qualified individual based on mental health violates disability acts in both the US and Canada. If an applicant successfully passes all screening requirements and is declared fit for duty, they are absolutely allowed to work in law enforcement. I've worked with other people who are bipolar, and a lot of employees suffer from anxiety and depression, sometimes just from years of service and seeing one shit show after another. Having mental illness should not preclude a person from being a part of public safety. I've chosen to keep my stuff quiet, but a number of other people have disclosed on the job that they suffer from some type of MI. When I'm actually working, no one has ever guessed that I have a mental illness, and I wouldn't have guessed it about others who told me about theirs either. It's not a matter of "you can't do this because of your mental illness," it's a matter of functioning at a standard where you're able to perform your required duties.
  10. I take it twice a day, when I wake up and at bedtime. I can't take a benzo on the job because it's a prohibited substance (in policy; I'm sure there are people who take meds on duty anyway). But I'm worried about cognitive impairment. I'm sure 1 mg wouldn't make a huge difference but it's not worth risking my job over. Ugghhh. I love what I do but MI really gets in the way. I feel like it's this big weight I'm carrying that makes some things 100 times harder for me than for "normal" people. I might ask my pdoc to increase it to 2 mg at bed to help shut my mind down. Seroquel makes me really groggy unless I take it 12 hours before I have to wake up.
  11. I just started a new job. Well, tomorrow is my first day actually working after training. And I'm fucking terrified. I'm still working in law enforcement, but transferred to like a really really intense job where there's a lot more daily stress, but better job security and advancement opportunities (because if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere). And when I get really fucking stressed, it triggers manic episodes for me. Also, it's no secret that all the co-workers are mean/unfriendly in the beginning, and it wasn't like that at ALL where I started out. I'm terrified that I'll start spinning again. Last year when I went to basic training, all of the stress from training, coming off of a horrible 6 months of midnight shifts, doing drill and having the constant feeling of not being good enough set off a major manic episode where I went off the rails, had an affair with a senior co-worker (nothing physical, but it got bad and almost ruined my marriage), and it fucked me over when I went back to work. People heard things through the grapevine. No one knew anything specific, but they knew enough that it was uncomfortable. One of my best friends is a psychologist who works at my old job's headquarters, and she said in hindsight it was so obvious that I was manic, but when you're manic it's hard to see it for yourself. I'm more prone to hypomania, which is easier to control. But when a full-blown manic episode hits I just turn into a fucking hurricane, destroying everything in my path. Now I'm venturing into the unknown again. I know 2 people in my new job on my shift, one is the husband of a friend (nice guy, but tough as nails), and one is a guy I went to university with, with whom I'd had a one-night stand. Great start. And I found out I have to go to basic training again, or at least most of it, because it's different training working for a different jurisdiction. I don't know how to handle it all. I haven't been eating much for the past week and a half. On my first day of orientation, I called my husband during my lunch break, in tears because it's so fucking overwhelming. And I know that once I'm on the job tomorrow, all I'm going to want to do in the beginning is cry, because that's what stress does to me. And I get an uncontrollable nervous tremor, which I've always tried to pass off as "caffeine jitters." I'm losing my mind with anxiety. I went to the gym to relax and it helped for awhile. I took a nap. I had dinner with my husband and cried. I did yoga. I did everything that I should do for anxiety, but what I'm most afraid of is what my brain will do to me once I start. I'm afraid that I'm going to start to crack, that the stress is going to kick-start my eating disorder (which is what happened when I started my last job), I'm afraid that in all of my insane efforts to prove myself to everyone, and try to be on good terms with everyone, I'll go way up and not know I'm fucking myself over again. I never recognize when I'm manic, it's the nature of the beast. And for all his amazing qualities, my husband doesn't see it either, and his response was "Well just make sure you don't have a manic episode then." Which makes me feel even more helpless because I can't fucking decide WHEN it's going to happen! I don't know how to create a safety plan for any of it because I've never done so in the past. So I'm terrified of what my brain is doing, because I feel like it and I are definitely not on the same page. How do you make a safety plan for something that hasn't happened, or prepare for what you know will be a rough start? And how do you keep the past from turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  12. My husband and I were perusing PostSecret a few weeks ago, and one of the postcards inspired me to bring up a very loaded topic to talk about: Knowing about each other what we do now, would we marry each other again? Like, if on your first date you already knew all the things that were going to happen in the future, and that there was nothing you could do to change it. Would you marry/date your significant other again? I told my husband that despite all the pain and grief that my mental illness has caused in my, his, our life, I would still go through it all over again because I love him so fucking much. I knew the answer before I asked him. He said it was an unfair question to ask, but then said "no." He wouldn't. Can I blame him? Absolutely not. He didn't know that the 21 year old Dean's List university student who asked him out was off her meds, manic, and overall batshit crazy. I filled him in on some of the MI stuff early on in our relationship and he said he was okay with it, but damn has it caused him a lot of suffering over the past 7 years. He has had to take me to the hospital numerous times, suffered the devastation of learning about an emotional affair, cleaned me up when self-injured, left work when I phoned him in extreme panic attacks, and generally learned to put his own needs on hold in order to be there for me. Despite having been stabilized on medication and therapy, I still have to ride the bipolar rollercoaster and sometimes I just can't keep it together without him having to rescue me. He has also been dragged down with me as I'm drowning in debt from every manic/depressed spending spree on multiple maxed out credit cards etc (although I'm finally getting that under control and paid off a bunch of debt recently. Progress!) Thinking about all that right now, I actually don't know if I'd want to put him through all of that again. Our good times are the best times of my life, and he's still here after seeing me at my worst (more than once). Great, now I'm crying because I'm a weepy mess already today, and part of me wishes I'd never gotten married because it's been one trip through hell after another, but with great times in between. So I put it to you all: Would you do it all over again if you knew what your experiences would be from the first date right up until today?
  13. I take 425 mg split during the day (225 in the AM/200 at bed) combined with clonazepam. I metabolize medication pretty quickly and it takes a higher dosage to feel the effects. It took over a year to titrate to that dosage. It is also the only medication that has caused any lasting positive changes for me, and I've taken a lot of different meds over the years. As for cognitive effects, they didn't increase with the doses. Everyone reacts to meds differently.
  14. I've been on 425 mg of lamotrigine for a few years now. I do find that it causes some impairment, and I get presque vu a lot - that "tip of the tongue" feeling when you can't remember a word. It drives me crazy because I was an avid writer for years and can't remember even simple words sometimes. My spelling has suffered as well. That being said, I've gotten pretty used to it and thanks to smartphones and Thesauruses (Thesauri?), I can cheat my way past it. The other weird thing I noticed with lamotrigine is occasional word salad. I'd say a sentence that made sense in my head but came out all scrambled and nonsensical. It's embarrassing when it happens when I'm talking to management at work. I do have problems with memory that I didn't have before. But I will happily take all those side effects over those of some other medications. I don't feel dopey, I didn't gain any weight (lost weight, actually), and it hasn't caused ataxia or tardive dyskinesia, which is a scary risk. I am meeting with my pdoc tomorrow to revise my medications, but honestly lamotrigine has probably been the only mood stabilizer that has actually worked for me in the 15 years that I've been on and off psych meds (started when I was 12). I did NOT know about skin death (omgwtf)... but LOVE the "zombie pills" quote.
  15. So I was way off base about being worried about my job! Thank god. I had to go in to a meeting with my Director and HR, and provide my own statement of what happened. I was reassured that everything is confidential, and that I was by no means under any investigation. Then I was sent on my merry way back to the academy, and my Sergeant Major was informed only that I was in a meeting, everything was confidential but I was secure, and if I was a little "off" that day, it was because of that. I threw myself straight back into training, and I've been focusing on work and my husband for the past week. Oddly, this whole chaos has brought my husband and me closer than we've been in a long time. It's like we both woke up and realized how fucked our priorities have been -- work work work, do other stuff, go to the gym, do other stuff, and completely neglected each other and our marriage. I'm not trying to make an excuse or place any blame on my husband, but we've been spending more time together than we have in ages, and it's been really nice. Maybe a part of it is due to guilt on my part, but we both need that closeness to feel reassured that we love each other. Unfortunately, this will all come out at work at some point, and I can't stay in training forever. I made my bed and I have to lie in it. We'll figure it out as we go along. Right now, my husband needs emotional support more than anything, and it's strange that we both feel better when we're close to each other. Not because we lose trust the minute the other leaves the room/house, but because we're both keeping each other strong through a really shitty situation. We're also seeing a marriage counsellor, and it's helping me, especially, to communicate more effectively, and to understand what to expect while he is coming to grips with what I've done.
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