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Everything posted by Squirlygrl

  1. Isn't moving said to be the most stressful thing besides death of a family member? Kudos for even doing it. There are med take-back programs. If you find a close one, problem solved. I've also heard good things about low-dose lithium for anger. It is quite possible that your neighbor, however evil, is not really going through your trash. This might be worth a mention to the doc. Seriously. But if so -- and I am not actually suggesting this -- aren't you a tiny bit tempted to plant a nasty note in there instead?
  2. It hurts to heal and it takes a long time. Treat yourself kindly, and be kind to your family, as I am sure you already are. They may be shaken now but they can re-stabilize too. I agree that therapy is tailor-made for this. If that's not financially or otherwise feasible, the occasional memoir can help. I prefer Elyn Saks' schizophrenia book to Kay Jamison's classic bipolar book, because sometimes I feel like Jamison magically just got better, while Saks beat such long odds to have a great life -- but it is worth reading both. You can get through guilt to acceptance. I feel you on the shell thing. After my most recent (and I honestly believe, last) hospitalization, I went about five months, and it hurt to be alive every single day. Then my old self, my real self, started coming back in like a coloring book. I haven't been this happy in years. I haven't been this at peace maybe ever. I sincerely wish the same for you.
  3. Anxiety? Being overwhelmed? Chronic illness/pain? All of that can give you ugly thoughts and feelings without being an episode. Provided that you: Get a GP to check that stomach? Get tested so you can quit stressing? Ask doctor/pharmacist if your Depakote levels permit a little buffered aspirin -- small single doses may not make you toxic -- if your stomach permits? Hot bath/massage? I do hope things look up for you. We have had the perfect storm around here and I too considered a little SI, it will pass, feel better. Give those kids a hug. I have taken to showing up at the bus stop in wet hair and yoga pants and pretending that I am a workout freak, not someone who just doesn't care. What is this, Fashion Week?
  4. I personally think that the human soul is built for a joyous reunion with God, and that this happens for everyone unless they really, really, really don't want it. As the old priest said: You may be obliged to believe that hell exists, but you don't have to believe that it is crowded. I also appreciate how fatuous, deluded, cruel and self-serving this kind of statement can seem, especially to the grieving. I hope I am not being insensitive. I don't think it would be the worst thing to cease to exist and to be at peace, especially if you had lived a good life. My daughter just suffered a loss. She is at a place in her life where she sees death as, at best, the next great adventure. I told her that it is hardest for the living, and that, while no one knows for sure, I think we have reason to hope. I also wouldn't be surprised if this is a mystery beyond the ken of our tiny brains, such that some of the specific things that people say about the afterlife sound unrealistic because, um, they are. I am so sorry for your loss and I wish you good memories and comfort and peace.
  5. Some ideas: Come in during the first hymn and leave during the last. Sit in the back and bring Kleenex. Sit in the lobby (we have one guy who does that, we have learned not to bug him to come in.) Skip the Revelation days. Some visiting pastor came to my youth group retreat and preached Revelation and I am still freaking out. It's a very hard book to interpret. There's a good case that a lot of the creepy stuff refers to Nero and is over, just as a lot of OT prophecy is over. At some point you have to trust the God you know, not the God that people are trying to beat you up with. Pray in a city church at lunchtime. Many are open. Quiet and empty. You could probably even light a candle. It's okay not to go every time. I was gone for seven years, except Easters, which was bad because I needed the community. But it can be breathtakingly hard, for the MI or even for the shy, to just walk in and grab it at coffee hour. Eventually I just told the pastors what was up and we found me a small group that helps. Reading on your own helps build up your courage too. Best wishes.
  6. In that case, then, Go VioletB! Here are all the success stories I have known. No opinion on whether these people have upswings. However: One friend was mired in a bad life situation and self-medicating with alcohol. Tried Wellbutrin, felt bad, quit it, went on to get not one but two great jobs. Happy as a clam. Another friend was suffocating in job and relationship hopelessness. Tried a series of meds, changed careers, got makeover, ended bad relationship, got happy one. Remains on meds with mixed feelings about them, but boy, does her life look better now. Yet another friend had a series of personal tragedies from which she could not recover. Work life was suffering and home life was falling apart. Constant grief. Got medicated. More kids, proud of new job, new home, happy and focused. Don't know if she's medicated. Former colleague had hard time, got treatment, struggled with happiness but was excellent professionally. Family member had extreme performance anxiety, got AD, problem solved, some side effects, life otherwise very good. Just remember, if you feel way too good, you probably are.
  7. Hi VioletB, if you are still there, As for the second opinion, I meant either, as desired; it is not mandatory. In some countries, I imagine that it is quite difficult. Over the years, I have had some bad advice, and some that was good advice that I didn't want to hear. In both situations, it was helpful to run it past another professional. The process of getting medicated, while necessary, has been long and hard for me, and by "getting medicated" I mean trying drug after drug, which in itself was a problem. I agree that there is a difference between full-dose Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin 150. As I have watched myself develop from what looked like slow-cycling bipolar II to something more theatrical, I have wanted a scapegoat. ADs concern me, because I had bad reactions to every one I tried, no matter how much mood stabilizer I took, and I regret using them. Years of no therapy, or just age/kindling, may be a more realistitic explanation. I am glad that you have a therapist; the constant reality check will help a lot with this. I thought that meds were a magic bullet, and I was bewildered when they didn't just turn me back into a perfectly capable person.
  8. Hi, welcome. If your current quality of life permits, there is no harm in getting a second opinion, especially because this therapist hasn't had time to get to know you well. It is possible that your symptoms are obvious to them and not to you. On the other hand, you said in your original post that you were the one who (first?) floated the diagnosis. My concern is that you are scheduled to start the antidepressant while your dose of mood stabilizer is still very low. At one point ADs were not given to bipolar people without a mood stabilizer, for fear of inducing or exacerbating cycling. Now some doctors will not use them at all. Jim Phelps at psycheducation.org has thought a lot about this: see his 2006 http://psycheducation.org/depression/ADwithoutAD.htm for some options. There is also recent suspicion that ADs are much better for severe depression than for mild to moderate depression. You could also pull up Goodwin and Jamison on Google Books and see if the cyclothymia bits are accessible. Yes, of course it is normal to fear the pills. I spent a lot of time looking at that first lithium and then waiting to turn into a newt after I swallowed it. It is true that you must give things time to work. Also, I have to disclose a bias: I tried Wellbutrin while on lithium. It was a reasonable choice, because I was obsessively suicidal and really not functioning. But it flipped me out badly, as did other ADs in lesser ways. YMMV, I am certainly easier to flip out than some -- my particular brain is just looking for an excuse. Since Wellbutrin is pretty activating and Lamictal is not a strong antimanic, the combination unnerves me. That said, I don't feel that Lamictal has done me any harm. I have started and stopped it with no trouble. There are a lot of threads about whom and when you tell. It's complicated. It's based on what you need from them and what you're likely to get. Hopefully you can tell a few for support without airing your whole life to people who will judge you. Since you live alone, real-world, non-therapist support is going to be important. Once you have that, I feel that less is more. Out and proud works for some but not for all. Bottom line: Find people whom you trust, and do as they say. If you don't trust them, replace them. Be a savvy consumer, but don't be your own doctor, and don't hire a yes-man. If I could go without meds I would, but only a quack is going to take them away at this point, and with them I can lead a good and normal life. Twenty years ago, who knows? Maybe I could have done it with therapy, but more likely, a little prevention then would have saved me a nightmare later. Best wishes.
  9. I was afraid they would copy me, and break their children's hearts. Suicide, the gift that keeps on giving. I have a parent who loved me desperately in spite of emotional struggles that hurt me, and a parent who split. You can guess what I think of each You have had a long fight and I think you are brave. I have known ECT inpatients who swear by it. I have considered it and would/will do it in a heartbeat rather than this. By the way, I think that as a child grows, it is easier for her to understand that the illness is not you. Just keep loving her and reach out to her as you can. And any little thing you can do for your wife is a gift to your daughter as well.
  10. I second that. Our families are far away, so we've had some kind of outside help for almost their whole lives, and it's still been hard on them.
  11. Trying to decide which of the following I will dutifully finish, just to say I did: The Great Deluge, Douglas Brinkley, about Katrina. Not sure I can take much more. No One, Gwenaelle Aubry, about her manic-depressive father. Meh. I much prefer Mira Bartok's The Memory Palace as a suffering-but-forgiving kid story. Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, Bruce Feiler. I don't know. Walking the Bible was fun. This is an afterthought.
  12. If you're only taking the medicine some of the time, you don't know what it's doing to you. Not very much? Energ ized but not yet happy? Whipsawed? It's hard to say. I used to feel that way about "not sick enough", very strongly, not at all anymore. What Titania says about it makes a lot of sense to me. I am horrified by the notion of going inpatient again. But then I have great support on the outside. It's also been hard to shake that "sick person" identity. I hated my meds because of side effects and I really, really hated them because they worked. I would still hate to take anything superfluous, but I need to handle that slowly and with lots of guidance. There was a New York Times story last fall about a schizoaffective executive who deals with her recurring need for total care by checking into a luxury hotel and staying in touch with her therapist. Much nicer than the locked ward, if you can afford it. I hope to come up with a stripped-down alternative. http://www.nytimes.c...&pagewanted=all
  13. Fluorescent-lit super-saturated double-exposed night portrait. My therapist hates it. I think he'd like me to burn it. Running or swimming?
  14. Born black, went bald, grew up blonde, darkened, highlighted. Went red once in a mood but the dye took wrong. Now that I am respectable I have the exact same color as all blondish Northeastern women between 25 and 75. Think Hillary Clinton, not Callista. Wish I could rock a stripe of blue.
  15. Thanks Wooster! Drive successful. Specialist visit too. Only downside was the Taco Bell trip I used as bribe.
  16. I am more sorry than I could ever tell you. I guess I don't see why the vasectomy has to happen in such a hurry. Your loss is so recent. I wonder if this is how he handles grief. He might change. I hope that counseling helps. I wish I could explain this, but I got to the point where it didn't hurt to look at the new babies, the new books, the beautiful pictures, the other things I thought I was put here for. (Okay, the pictures, maybe a little.) I can enjoy them for themselves and for what they meant to other people. It took time and individual therapy and a lot of spiritual support and even then it's mysterious. Not that it measures up to what happened to you. I'm just trying to say that I think there is hope.
  17. I'm going out today! Highway = T minus 2 hours. But I might skip the weave and just get on further north. Wish me luck! Because I never do this. But my son needs, needs, needs to see this specialist.
  18. If you mean "be prescribed antipsychotic meds for a limited period of time," yes. Provisionally. Depending on how bad you are. I am eighteen months into a trial. Here's my story. I have only had a few capital-V Visions and they were the obvious crests of mood episodes. I did tend to get weird at other times, though, so I was on maintenance antipsychotics for a long time. I quit mine (on a doctor's advice and while on other meds) and flipped out, quickly and badly. I don't think I have ever been so afraid. I left the hospital on high doses of anticonvulsants. Since then I have had some brief psychotic aftershocks, maybe half a dozen. They have been upsetting but have not prevented me from functioning. They are getting less frequent and I would not be surprised if they went away, except maybe under extreme stress, which you can usually anticipate and manage. This is taking a lot of therapy. That is why I am doing this under the supervision of an MD therapist, a prescribing MD, and two consultants. I hate to admit how often I see them. I am more like a hothouse vegetable than a pioneer. It is an incredible luxury. I expect to get more independent, but I would not start this at arm's length. As for "cured," I am happy to settle for "not doing it or about to do it right now." Seriously, if I can accomplish as much as the next guy, it doesn't matter. I am trying to unlearn some paranoia, but then I only get the cyclical, hardly-worthy-of-the-name kind, not the bad kind. (Although one of the things I get paranoid about is the medication .) Chronic medication does require some cost-benefit analysis. But "chronically mentally ill," as a primary identity, is truly dangerous only if you give into it. It is bad for your security clearance and your career as a pilot. Other than that, you are still yourself. We are all a little shopworn, even those labeled "healthy." And we are all infinitely valuable. As for "masking the illness:" You taper medication under the close eye of one sensible doctor and maybe with the advice of another. You accept the risk that, if you put it back, it might not work the second time around. If I start to taper something I still need, I would say that I have problems within a month or two. Not physical or nervous symptoms, but relapse problems of more than a day's duration. Remember that some things can lie dormant for a long time. I have seen people quit their medication and not get sick again for twenty years, but when they did, it was a nightmare. So, of course, you should really talk to a professional. Dear God, I should really shut up now. Best wishes.
  19. I'm going to agree with everybody else. Like gizmo, I was undiagnosed with the kids (2) and much crazier the second time, only I went apple picking. I felt gooood. It got worse. Epilim/Depakote is unbelievably stabilizing for me, so much so that the side effects are worth it. Of course, it is not baby friendly. FWIW, I got a Lamictal rash, but since it was not Stevens-Johnson, I was able to re-start and remain on the drug. In my whole life, the most painful and frightening thing has been being unstable for my children. At fifteen months, I think they are pretty clueless. A few years later, they notice. In a perfect world, I would have had three children. But I spent my thirties on a whirl of med changes and hospitalizations and well, that's that. Now I have all that I can handle. I truly believe that one can have a lovely family of any size. The following is the best information that I have found on the safety of mood stablizers in pregnancy. It's from a specialty clinic at Harvard/Mass General, and it reports that the risks of lithium may be lower than once thought. http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/psychiatric-disorders-during-pregnancy/ Best wishes, and congratulations on your beautiful son.
  20. I have been on 1600 extended release (Equetro) these last 18 months. I started in the hospital, where agitation masked the initial sedation. Now I sometimes sleep an extra hour at night (8.5 hours) or need 15-30 minutes down time after lunch. I'll bet it's just the dose increase that's getting you. But do complain if it doesn't resolve.
  21. I think a big part of the problem is that it is called "depression," which everyone thinks they have had. Migraine/headache is a good analogy.
  22. For me, psychosis and spiritual insight are a Venn diagram at best. The concrete visions of love and light? Great. The demons, vermin, mutilated children? Not so much.
  23. Hang in there. I have waves of this one too. I am on stuff that I believe is very helpful mixed with stuff that I think is useless, and it all interacts, and I would like to pare it down. But I'm still working on my life. If I have to start getting med whiplash again, while trying to live better, it will be too much. I have to get my act together first. Besides, hating the meds is like hating a scapegoat for me. If you really are too sleepy and too spacey, you should get a consult with the smartest person you can find. I did this more than once. Sometimes it made me think that my plan was the lesser of two evils, and sometimes it made me think I was right on target. Missing the suicidal thoughts is normal and a subject for therapy. As in, me too, got better, I like this more. I have gotten the pill thing down to a contest of how many (fifteen!) I can take at once. It is scary as hell if you lose them. But I'm not a cyborg. I'm just really good at swallowing pills. It helps that I am getting close to the Lipitor generation, so, like gizmo said, it's not a crazy badge. Congrats on your girlfriend's move.
  24. Gizmo has excellent advice. I expect you will be able to circulate more as the physical effects of the OD decline. The hospital chaplain, if you have one, might make a good visitor -- non-denominational, non-judgmental and trained in being soothing. You can always ask not to be explicitly prayed over if you prefer. I found the other patients the most comforting of all. A few are not well enough to communicate but most are good company. Other than that, how about something repetitive, maybe a jigsaw puzzle? It is fabulous that you have Internet access. Feel better.
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