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Picking Up The Pieces

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Firstly, I'm new here so Hi :) I've also realised I have a username almost identical to a moderator after browsing for a bit, not sure what to do about that.


I'm just trying to pick myself up from the worst six months of my life. I was diagnosed with various flavours of crazy when I was a teenager, many psychotic episodes, many hospitalisations. Managed to pick myself up early twenties and decide I WAS going to be better, met my amazing hubby, got my perfect dog Merlin. Fast forward 12 odd years and I'm now mid thirties and have REFUSED to believe I was bipolar, mainly as it felt like a life sentance whareas MDD was curable. Still struggling with my diagnosis at the moment.


I've had a relatively stable 10 years, just two serious episodes that looking back were mixed states. One wrist that an orthopedic surgeon took two hours to fix and is still weak 6 years later and one refusal to eat or drink for 9 days until I put myself into acute renal failure and now live with kidneys that don't function properly and small things like too many flu remedies raise my creatinine levels and cause my kidneys to not filter properly. But I was still NOT bipolar, so I carried on with just an anti depressant and clonazepam for panic disorder.


I had a gorgeous baby boy who is now 2 and a half. I moved from the backcountry of New Zealand where I had horses, space, calm, boat, waterskiing, snow skiing.. to a busy suburb of Auckland due to hubby's job upgrade. Well, it catapulted me into first severe agoraphobia (again) then down to a deep depression, I could barely feed by son, we lived on baby food jars and frozen ready meals, weeks of this wore me down til it turned into an agitated depression that was living hell and then into psychotic depression. I was Sectioned under the mental health act and was frogmarched into the local Psychiatric hospital. I stayed for 3 weeks where my hubby took the time off work to look after our son, one nearly successful suicide attempt, one severely damaged soft tissue injury from trying to kick my way out, refusing to eat and drink, I was (very uncharacteristically) violent and threw chairs at windows and nurses into walls and was kept in the Psych ICU the whole time . I had medication changes which worked a treat and was discharged finally, had a bit of help looking after Zak for the first week by community support workers. But things trucked along and my baby and I were happy.

Cue a few weeks later and I kept feeling better and better and BETTER a massive swing into hypomania which was amazing, so much energy, no anxiety, I was able to do so much and take Z (my son) so many places, get a baby sitter go out for drinks with friends. Unfortunately I kept getting higher despite new meds being added in into full blown mania where I thought things were just fabulous but I was so distractable I'd forget to feed Z, couldn't read to him, I'd take him to the park but couldn't focus for more than a few minutes, so we'd be off doing something else, I had several near misses driving as I was going too fast every thing was going TOO FAST in my head, in my life.

The mania finally turned really bad when I started hallucinating then went psychotic. I saw lines of power that connected the whole world, Gaia Theory style, that I had to follow or I was convinced the world would be tipped off it's axis and something dreadful would happen if I stopped, so I kept moving and following and practically forgot I had a child or followed lines into the middle of the road. I was to put it bluntly Batshit Insane.

I knew it was bad when a psychiatrist and three nurses were at my house at midnight when I came in from walking for five hours, I was Sectioned again, hospitalised and put on a whack of new drugs. I was so unwell I was sectioned again and again and finally had to have a hearing and see a judge for any further Sections. I was forced to take antipsychotics that terrified me (PTSD and being sedated sets off fight or flight, I tried both), seven nurses holding me down while they injected me with meds until I finally became med compliant. Managed to get severe akathisia from olanzapine, and due to my psychiatrist thinking it was caused by the lithium started weeks before I was titrated up on olanzapine constantly. I KNEW it was the olanzapine causing the akathisia (don't ask my how) and I begged repeatedly to be changed off it, I refused and refused, kept getting injected even when I was in tears or rage that I was being chemically tortured. It was the worst thing I have ever been through. Ever.. I couldn't sleep, eat, stop walking. I walked all but a few hours a day for weeks until I was finally crawling. I was discharged after a month and a half, about three weeks ago. Still with akathisia, no longer manic or psychotic but still having akathisia. I stopped olanzapine dead and my Community psych did as I asked and put me back on chlorpromazine (I don't seem to respond well to AAP's). Another week and the akathisia finally stopped. Two months of moving really ravaged my body, I'd lost 6kg and was physically as weak as a kitten. I also lost my soulmate, my border collie Merlin, he'd given me 13 years of unconditional love and he had to be put down during this hospital stay.

During this time the DHB partially funded full time childcare and my parents gave us over a thousand dollars to fund the rest. The drugs combined with the fall from psychotic mania has left me barely functioning, I had to work out what a knife was for, how to dress properly, I'd forgotten how to put a nappy on even.

ANYWAY, the whole point of this long post (welldone if you've read this far) is that I now have a child that has gone backwards significantly. He refuses to talk, has tantrums all the time, at times can't cope with me being here and cries for hours and other times can't cope with me being out and cries anyway. Our local play group made freezable dinners in bulk for weeks so he had nutritious meals as I can't cook. He refuses to ride his scooter or go on his trike. He screams in the car. Everything has fallen apart for all of us. He was such a happy go lucky boy who smiled all the time and traveled all over South East Asia with no issues and now we both struggle to walk the 500m to the corner shop, he's lost most of his happy go luckyness. I'm terrified that I've caused him permanent harm from being unwell. I now have a specialist clinical psychologist for my issues and she says it will just take time for him to feel secure I'm here and properly present with him. In the meantime I'm still getting panic attacks all the time, medications are being increased all the time (lamotrigine) which adds anxiety and sedation to my every day, and the anti psychotics make thinking (and things like reading to him) painfully hard.


Has anyone had such a hard time picking up the pieces after the fall from mania? Has anyone fallen so hard that they couldn't work out how to put sugar in their coffee or how to put a sock on?? I feel like I've had a head injury or something and it scares me to death. I'm so agoraphobic again even the yard is scary. I feel like I've falled so hard I've completely shattered and I have no idea how to pick myself up, or how to start. My Tdoc just tells me I need time to recover and to be compassionate to myself during this time but I find I'm just frustrated and want to be able to do things with my son and I'm stuck back down in the pit again.

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Your tdoc is correct. It takes time. I had a few really bad years. Hospitalization, ECT, short term and long term disability, etc. It was hard. No doubt about it. It was hard on all of us. I worried about the kids a lot. I got them both their own tdocs. You can find tdoc and pdoc that specialize in dealing with kids. It helped a lot. A whole lot. In retrospect, I should have had hubby go talk to someone as well but he is an adult and can make his own appointments. 


What you need to do is stay well. Do whatever it is that keeps you stable. Most all kids need/want consistency. He will come around eventually but he may need help from a tdoc. My kids are pretty much grown now. We still talk about some of the things that happened back then. They forgive me. They know I was sick. The best thing that I can do from here on out is take care of myself so that I don't get to that point again. That, and love them. Unconditionally. 

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I wish I could get my hubby to talk to a tdoc, he's even said he could have done with someone to talk to during the last six months and that trying to hold the family together finantially and be there for me and Z, having to put my dog down, as well as working full time for my second hospitalisation was quite traumatic. He wont see a tdoc though, he's trying to tough it out. I've wondered about asking my tdoc to do a few joint sessions.


I'm giving my son all the love I have, he's everything to me, but it's hard when I feel like my emotions are behind a wall and if I was to feel properly I'd just lose it completely again. The horror of the last few months and loss of my dog has been too much and I've flipped my internal switch off.


It's frustrating just giving it time when it's been weeks and I'm still functioning so badly :/

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Thanks for sharing.

Psychosis/mania is a form of brain injury. In my opinion anyway. When I was psychotic/manic I used to struggle to eat because all I could focus on was one grain of rice at a time. Each grain was a source of amazement and wonder. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Saving the world was important. Eating not so. Bathing and dressing well didn't even rate. I was a dishevelled mess with mis-matched clothing and unruly hair at my last hospital admission. I've come a long way.

You've come a long way too and I hope you find some source of encouragement here. Have you thought of attending group sessions for your agoraphobia - exposure to such social situations might help?

NZ healthcare also offer services such as Wellness Recovery Action Plan groups, dieticians and other such resources. Take advantage of these if you can and keep a good relationship with your keyworker.

I would definitely recommend a family session with you and your husband. Drag him along if you have to ;).

I don't have children but they tend to be more resilient than you think. Any chance of family support with your son?

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I actually had a minor head injury during my long period of revolving door hospitalisations in my teens from jumping in front of a car. From what I remember I'm functioning worse now than I did after getting hit by a car. I can type out replies but it takes a long time and many corrections and sometimes obvious words like "and" or "then" disappear and I have to stop and come back and keep typing hours later. It's really odd.


I'm with you on the appearance though, I was so focused on keeping the world on it's axis and having to follow the lines of power wherever they lead that bathing and eating became far less important than saving the world from a disastrous end, when I was sectioned at midnight it had been over two weeks since I bathed and I have no idea what I was wearing or when I had eaten last.


I can't go to groups as yet as I can't drive myself anywhere, my husband has to take time off work for all my psych appointments. I still can't even deal with seeing my close friends, it just triggers panic attacks. Even my clinical psychologist comes to my house to do therapy. I have 6 hours a week support through Pathways and they have WRAP groups for when I'm doing better and can get out and about. It's hard though as I look after Z full time apart from the one afternoon a week he goes to day care when my Tdoc comes around, can't afford more than that so I'm limied in groups when I have a toddler.


I'm going to bring up my hubby with my Tdoc when I see her again tomorrow. See what she thinks of a joint session with hubby.


Thanks for replying :)

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Congratulations on your resiliency. That was a rough go. Akathisia is horrible, not to mention the crazy.


Time. It takes time. Sometimes lots of time. Everything will come back. Have faith. It just might take some months to fully regain yourself once you are on the right course of meds. And it's a slow process stepping down on the meds. Too fast, symptoms reappear. Too slow, sometimes they hinder you. It is a delicate balance you have to work with your doctor. Therapy can make a huge difference, too. It can be really hard to process the crazy whether it be accepting that you have it to what you did while out of your head. A tdoc who understands bipolar is important, IMO. Bring your husband. He could use some help, too. I'm sorry about your dog. Your son will regain the lost ground and become comfortable and secure and happy again as you stabilize and get well. He needs time, too. And, you will get well. And so will he.

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