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PippaLove

Hi. New here...

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I feel like no one understands...so here I am hoping you will.

I was diagnosed as bipolar 5 years ago. I spent 10 years before my dx trying many different meds for depression. Nothing helped...many just made things much worse.

Right after my bipolar diagnosis, I started on a mood stabilizer (lamictal). Hated it. It seemed to increase my irritability/anger issues. So I quit it (which tbh, I would have eventually quit it anyway...its definitely a pattern for me). 

So I've been off meds for years. I do ok. I pull it together, go to my job, take care of my family...but lately its getting harder for me. When I have something I HAVE to do (like work or something for my kids) I do it but anything else, I can't. I just can't make myself do anything "extra". I self-medicate with cigarettes. I practice escapism (isolating myself away in my room with books and hours on the ipad...or sleeping too much). 

My mania consists of insomnia, agitation, irritation, increased energy to the point of my body feeling buzzy/electric and rapid, often obsessive thoughts. Mania is not "fun" for me. It starts off ok as the increased energy makes me feel like I can move again, which is often a welcome change to the crushing sluggishness of my depression. But soon I feel exhausted by the energy coursing through me, like it takes all my willpower to just keep myself in check. Then the irritation takes over and I'm a short tempered bitch. I spend all my time angry or feeling guilty for my angry outbursts.

Then slowly the mania fades...and depression returns.

Depression is like a dark, heavy cloud on me. I feel defeated...sometimes panicked by the thought that THIS is what my life is...that THIS is what it will always be. I'm moody, tired, grumpy. I sleep too much and interact with others on a "need to" basis.

In other words...my life is pathetic. If you could even call it a life...it is certainly not living.

I want to be better...a better mom, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister...a better everything. I've shrunk down my life in order to try to cope with this illness. I've made my life so tiny that I barely deviate from my set routine (work, home, cook, clean, smile at my kids, nod my head as they talk, hug my husband, go to bed). Anything outside of this is just too much for me. I had to attend a dinner for my father's bday recently. I forced myself to go. It took me days to get over the ordeal. I had anxiety coursing through me. That is just not normal...but what to do??

Sorry for going on so long...I guess I just needed to vent.

ETA...I went through CBT several years ago and it was helpful as it gave me some tools to work through my own BS as it arises. Currently I get 5 free therapy session a year on my insurance plan...those have been used up already...only 11 more months to go until I can go again...ugh. :( I am currently providing the only income for my family and finances are tight, to say the least. I can't afford any more therapy right now.

I am afraid of meds, due to side effects and my own irrational, obsessive fears of not feeling in control all the time. Sigh. I would be willing to try again...but man, it's so hard to even start that process again. I don't currently have a doctor so yeah, it would require me to actually DO something to get the ball rolling. I just don't know if I have it in me. It just seems like so much. Sigh.

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Pippa, I certainly understand a lot of what you are going through, especially doing what HAS to be done and then crashing at home and doing little else.  I battle this all the time.  However, I don't think your life is pathetic...you are doing quite a bit without the benefits of stablyzing medication.  You deserve a medal.  

A couple of thoughts....Have you ever considered joining a local NAMI group near you?  It's the National Association of Mental Illness. Google nami.org.  They offer a lot of support for people like you and I and the loved ones of people who battle MI.  You might find some useful information on the latest treatments for Bi-polar or people who  really understand you and allow you to feel comfortable venting.  Sometimes we just need to be heard.  Also, your husband might find support through them.  They offer programs  designed just for family members.  It might be worth checking into.

The  other thought is pulling your GP into this.  Have you had a recent physical and the necessary bloodwork?  Just to rule out any other issues that might be going on in addition to the bi-polar.  It sounds like you might have some Anxiety issues going on as well.  If you have decent health insurance you might want to look for a GP who offers Coordinated Care.  This is a physician who works in a clinic setting with quite a few other health professionals and is the "hub" or link that ties everything together that is specific to you.  So, if you need cognitive therapy, for example, a CC physician would work with a therapist or a nurse practitioner within the clinic and have instant access to the outcome of your treatment.  He or she would be the main source of information for your patient care.  It's kind of a holistic approach to health care.

Try to give yourself some grace.  You are doing a LOT in spite of being mentally ill.  Not everybody can do that.  i'm glad you found this site.  There  is a lot of knowledge here to tap into and a lot of good information.  Hang in there.  There is hope.

 

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"I am afraid of meds, due to side effects and my own irrational, obsessive fears of not feeling in control all the time. Sigh. I would be willing to try again...but man, it's so hard to even start that process again. I don't currently have a doctor so yeah, it would require me to actually DO something to get the ball rolling. I just don't know if I have it in me. It just seems like so much. Sigh."

if you are afraid to take medications, your instability will continue. If this is a real sticking point for you, I suggest seeing a therapist to try to work this out.

Yes, there are side-effects (not all meds, but many). First of all, it often takes 6-8 weeks before a med becomes efficacious. And it is common to have side effects when you first start a medication, but there is a good chance those side effects will go away in time.

If a side effect is REALLY driving you crazy, you should call your pdoc. But I think that has happened to me only once in over 30 years.

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I just want to welcome you to CB. I'm glad you joined us.

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Your life, minus the kids, sounds like mine for many years with a depression diagnosis. Even my pdoc didn't think I'd ever be better. Then after a change of diagnosis led to a change of meds, it was a game changer. After all those meds, finally I feel some balance. No, it's not perfect. But when I try to titrate off meds, I see they really are something I need. This is not a disease you can will yourself to fix, it does take meds. I know the quest for the right med is tiring, but it can be worth it. Wanting off meds seems pretty universal, but it's not a good plan. I feel I wasted years of my life unmedicated or on meds for the wrong diagnosis, I wish I had known it could get better. I think there are many med options, give them a chance and when you find a good one, don't stop it. I hope you find a good pdoc soon. 

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FWIW ... Just wanted to add that just because you have a certain diagnosis, does not mean you will be put on specific medications for it.  If your diagnosis changes, it doesn't always mean you'll be put on a new set of meds.  Sometimes new meds are given, or not, but overall the goal is to treat the symptoms.

 

Welcome to CB!

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16 hours ago, LindaMarie64 said:

Pippa, I certainly understand a lot of what you are going through, especially doing what HAS to be done and then crashing at home and doing little else.  I battle this all the time.  However, I don't think your life is pathetic...you are doing quite a bit without the benefits of stablyzing medication.  You deserve a medal.  

A couple of thoughts....Have you ever considered joining a local NAMI group near you?  It's the National Association of Mental Illness. Google nami.org.  They offer a lot of support for people like you and I and the loved ones of people who battle MI.  You might find some useful information on the latest treatments for Bi-polar or people who  really understand you and allow you to feel comfortable venting.  Sometimes we just need to be heard.  Also, your husband might find support through them.  They offer programs  designed just for family members.  It might be worth checking into.

The  other thought is pulling your GP into this.  Have you had a recent physical and the necessary bloodwork?  Just to rule out any other issues that might be going on in addition to the bi-polar.  It sounds like you might have some Anxiety issues going on as well.  If you have decent health insurance you might want to look for a GP who offers Coordinated Care.  This is a physician who works in a clinic setting with quite a few other health professionals and is the "hub" or link that ties everything together that is specific to you.  So, if you need cognitive therapy, for example, a CC physician would work with a therapist or a nurse practitioner within the clinic and have instant access to the outcome of your treatment.  He or she would be the main source of information for your patient care.  It's kind of a holistic approach to health care.

Try to give yourself some grace.  You are doing a LOT in spite of being mentally ill.  Not everybody can do that.  i'm glad you found this site.  There  is a lot of knowledge here to tap into and a lot of good information.  Hang in there.  There is hope.

 

I haven't looked into NAMI. This is a good idea. I will do some research today. I appreciate your kind, supportive words. I can see that you DO understand. :) I'm planning on calling my insurance company today to see what can be done. I have United Healthcare...not sure if that is considered good insurance or not. I know that they have been helpful in the past but the process is always a huge pain. I pay A LOT of money for this insurance so I want to make sure I'm getting the most out of it.

My husband tries to be understanding. It's hard though. He just doesn't get it. He freaks a little when I mention trying meds again due to having to witness the roller coaster of trying to find the right ones again. I know he will support my decision but it's not easy for him. He feels meds are a last resort for people who aren't functional at all. I'm functional...at least from the outside looking in.

Thank you again. I appreciate this.

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13 hours ago, crtclms said:

"I am afraid of meds, due to side effects and my own irrational, obsessive fears of not feeling in control all the time. Sigh. I would be willing to try again...but man, it's so hard to even start that process again. I don't currently have a doctor so yeah, it would require me to actually DO something to get the ball rolling. I just don't know if I have it in me. It just seems like so much. Sigh."

if you are afraid to take medications, your instability will continue. If this is a real sticking point for you, I suggest seeing a therapist to try to work this out.

Yes, there are side-effects (not all meds, but many). First of all, it often takes 6-8 weeks before a med becomes efficacious. And it is common to have side effects when you first start a medication, but there is a good chance those side effects will go away in time.

If a side effect is REALLY driving you crazy, you should call your pdoc. But I think that has happened to me only once in over 30 years.

Yes my irrational fears are a huge thing with me. I know they are irrational but I can't seem to get over them. I've had this med fear for a long time...starting maybe in my early 20s. It's not just psychiatric type meds either. It's all medications, vitamins, etc. I think my fears in this area all lead back to my fear of not being in control of myself. I've also had fears of being drugged or eating contaminated food/drink. I don't know why. We never could get to the bottom of that one. It's the same thing with heights or closed spaces. I have to know I can get out of some place the second I want/need to. Once you take a pill, the effect will be there for a certain amount of time, regardless of whether I want it to be there or not. Does that make sense? I know...it's very odd.

The main side effects that I've had are excessive weight gain (not good since right now I'm a good 60 lbs overweight), tremors (that one freaked me out so bad because again, I felt I wasn't in control of my body), increased anger (which is the opposite of what I need since anger is already an issue) and apathy (just didn't care about anything...zombiefied).

I know that most of the side effects are in my head...like I expect them to happen, am looking for and just waiting for them...so they happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

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12 hours ago, sbdivemaster said:

How long were you on the Lamictil?  Did you start at 25mg and titrate up slowly?  Have you tried lithium?

They tend to be the front line initial treatments for bipolar.  I tried lithium - hated it.  Made me crash so hard, after 3 weeks all I could think about was killing myself, all day long, just a endless loop of "I should kill myself."  This went on for months even after I stopped the lithium.

I had to finally bootstrap it and find a doctor, or I was going to die.  Skipping ahead to the good part... I've been on Lamictal for over 10 years - works great for me, never felt like I wasn't in control.  And yes, there were some side effects in the beginning, but they did go away, and I don't experience any at all now.  (Except for the third arm that grew out of my back... lol.gif)

Regardless, not much is going to work if you don't stick with it.  Med compliance is a real problem for people with bipolar, but if you're going to take meds, it's the only way.

Keep at it, it can get better.  Keep coming back here - people want to help you.

I was only on Lamictal about 6 weeks. I just titrate up slowly. I now remember that the other issue, besides the anger, was it made me really itchy...and that made me convinced I would get The Rash and die. Sigh. A third arm sounds nice! I could get so much more done. hahaha

I haven't tried lithium. That one REALLY strikes fear in my heart. I don't know why. I am terrified of it.

Yes...I've been told so many times that I must stick with it or it does no good. It's like I could get better if I could get out of my own way.

Thank you!

11 hours ago, sugarsugar said:

Your life, minus the kids, sounds like mine for many years with a depression diagnosis. Even my pdoc didn't think I'd ever be better. Then after a change of diagnosis led to a change of meds, it was a game changer. After all those meds, finally I feel some balance. No, it's not perfect. But when I try to titrate off meds, I see they really are something I need. This is not a disease you can will yourself to fix, it does take meds. I know the quest for the right med is tiring, but it can be worth it. Wanting off meds seems pretty universal, but it's not a good plan. I feel I wasted years of my life unmedicated or on meds for the wrong diagnosis, I wish I had known it could get better. I think there are many med options, give them a chance and when you find a good one, don't stop it. I hope you find a good pdoc soon. 

Thank you! I appreciate your kind words. I have a call into my insurance company. I guess my workplace also has some program to get free therapy for 6 session. I'm going to explore all my options.

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5 hours ago, melissaw72 said:

FWIW ... Just wanted to add that just because you have a certain diagnosis, does not mean you will be put on specific medications for it.  If your diagnosis changes, it doesn't always mean you'll be put on a new set of meds.  Sometimes new meds are given, or not, but overall the goal is to treat the symptoms.

 

Welcome to CB!

I probably need to see someone to make sure my diagnosis is thorough enough. I'm most definitely bipolar but I think there are other things going on too. Maybe it would be helpful to really know what I'm dealing with here.

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One thing that might be worth exploring is that I thought with the various new health care laws, there weren't supposed to be as many barriers on access to mental health care services.  I don't know that definitively, but it might be worth spending some time on google and seeing if you find anything.

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5 hours ago, dancesintherain said:

One thing that might be worth exploring is that I thought with the various new health care laws, there weren't supposed to be as many barriers on access to mental health care services.  I don't know that definitively, but it might be worth spending some time on google and seeing if you find anything.

That is definitely how it is supposed to be. I logged into my healthcare website and there are only 5 psychiatrists in my entire city that accept my insurance. 5. I live in a big city. Hmmmm.

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On May 25, 2016 at 8:18 AM, PippaLove said:

Yes my irrational fears are a huge thing with me. I know they are irrational but I can't seem to get over them. I've had this med fear for a long time...starting maybe in my early 20s. It's not just psychiatric type meds either. It's all medications, vitamins, etc. I think my fears in this area all lead back to my fear of not being in control of myself. I've also had fears of being drugged or eating contaminated food/drink. I don't know why. We never could get to the bottom of that one. It's the same thing with heights or closed spaces. I have to know I can get out of some place the second I want/need to. Once you take a pill, the effect will be there for a certain amount of time, regardless of whether I want it to be there or not. Does that make sense? I know...it's very odd.

The main side effects that I've had are excessive weight gain (not good since right now I'm a good 60 lbs overweight), tremors (that one freaked me out so bad because again, I felt I wasn't in control of my body), increased anger (which is the opposite of what I need since anger is already an issue) and apathy (just didn't care about anything...zombiefied).

I know that most of the side effects are in my head...like I expect them to happen, am looking for and just waiting for them...so they happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Finding meds that are effective and have tolerable side effects can take a long time. The med-go-round isn't a lot of fun, but when you find something that works, it can really transform your life. I am currently going off of daily meds due to crappy side effects, but I at least know I have meds that work very effectively now. I am going to try to manage things with just PRN medication for the time being, but I will hop back on the med-go-round if I am unable to control the symptoms that way.

There are lots of meds out there, and I think you at least owe it to yourself to try, as merely existing isn't a lot of fun. I've been in remission for a year, and everything is just So. Much. Better. And if I'm being honest, I think I would go back on my daily meds and suffer the side effects if those turned out to be the only meds that worked. I don't want to suffer another lost decade, blow my life up yet again, or wind up dead.

I am slowly starting have a life again, and it's a life worth living. I can't imagine going back to the way things were. My worst fear is probably that my meds won't work the next time 'round, and I won't be able to find replacements that work as well. I've heard horror stories like that. Then again, meds sometimes simply poop out after a while, so there's no telling when that might happen. 

Of course not everyone gets fantastic results, but the possibility is out there. And considering just how great things can be, I think it's tragic when people don't even make the attempt. I went years without meds after being diagnosed bipolar, and I wish I could get those back. And the worst part is that I don't even really know why I didn't try the meds. I guess I was afraid of being zombified or not experiencing the highs any more. Plus I had issues accepting the diagnosis, so I guess I thought that not taking/needing the meds meant I wasn't really bipolar. It took one humdinger of a mixed episode to finally convince me that I needed the meds, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Anyway, I hope you can find a path forward to a better life, and that CB can help support you along the way. Good luck!

On May 25, 2016 at 8:18 AM, PippaLove said:

Yes my irrational fears are a huge thing with me. I know they are irrational but I can't seem to get over them. I've had this med fear for a long time...starting maybe in my early 20s. It's not just psychiatric type meds either. It's all medications, vitamins, etc. I think my fears in this area all lead back to my fear of not being in control of myself. I've also had fears of being drugged or eating contaminated food/drink. I don't know why. We never could get to the bottom of that one. It's the same thing with heights or closed spaces. I have to know I can get out of some place the second I want/need to. Once you take a pill, the effect will be there for a certain amount of time, regardless of whether I want it to be there or not. Does that make sense? I know...it's very odd.

The main side effects that I've had are excessive weight gain (not good since right now I'm a good 60 lbs overweight), tremors (that one freaked me out so bad because again, I felt I wasn't in control of my body), increased anger (which is the opposite of what I need since anger is already an issue) and apathy (just didn't care about anything...zombiefied).

I know that most of the side effects are in my head...like I expect them to happen, am looking for and just waiting for them...so they happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Finding meds that are effective and have tolerable side effects can take a long time. The med-go-round isn't a lot of fun, but when you find something that works, it can really transform your life. I am currently going off of daily meds due to crappy side effects, but I at least know I have meds that work very effectively now. I am going to try to manage things with just PRN medication for the time being, but I will hop back on the med-go-round if I am unable to control the symptoms that way.

There are lots of meds out there, and I think you at least owe it to yourself to try, as merely existing isn't a lot of fun. I've been in remission for a year, and everything is just So. Much. Better. And if I'm being honest, I think I would go back on my daily meds and suffer the side effects if those turned out to be the only meds that worked. I don't want to suffer another lost decade, blow my life up yet again, or wind up dead.

I am slowly starting have a life again, and it's a life worth living. I can't imagine going back to the way things were. My worst fear is probably that my meds won't work the next time 'round, and I won't be able to find replacements that work as well. I've heard horror stories like that. Then again, meds sometimes simply poop out after a while, so there's no telling when that might happen. 

Of course not everyone gets fantastic results, but the possibility is out there. And considering just how great things can be, I think it's tragic when people don't even make the attempt. I went years without meds after being diagnosed bipolar, and I wish I could get those back. And the worst part is that I don't even really know why I didn't try the meds. I guess I was afraid of being zombified or not experiencing the highs any more. Plus I had issues accepting the diagnosis, so I guess I thought that not taking/needing the meds meant I wasn't really bipolar. It took one humdinger of a mixed episode to finally convince me that I needed the meds, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Anyway, I hope you can find a path forward to a better life, and that CB can help support you along the way. Good luck!

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On May 25, 2016 at 8:18 AM, PippaLove said:

Yes my irrational fears are a huge thing with me. I know they are irrational but I can't seem to get over them. I've had this med fear for a long time...starting maybe in my early 20s. It's not just psychiatric type meds either. It's all medications, vitamins, etc. I think my fears in this area all lead back to my fear of not being in control of myself. I've also had fears of being drugged or eating contaminated food/drink. I don't know why. We never could get to the bottom of that one. It's the same thing with heights or closed spaces. I have to know I can get out of some place the second I want/need to. Once you take a pill, the effect will be there for a certain amount of time, regardless of whether I want it to be there or not. Does that make sense? I know...it's very odd.

The main side effects that I've had are excessive weight gain (not good since right now I'm a good 60 lbs overweight), tremors (that one freaked me out so bad because again, I felt I wasn't in control of my body), increased anger (which is the opposite of what I need since anger is already an issue) and apathy (just didn't care about anything...zombiefied).

I know that most of the side effects are in my head...like I expect them to happen, am looking for and just waiting for them...so they happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Finding meds that are effective and have tolerable side effects can take a long time. The med-go-round isn't a lot of fun, but when you find something that works, it can really transform your life. I am currently going off of daily meds due to crappy side effects, but I at least know I have meds that work very effectively now. I am going to try to manage things with just PRN medication for the time being, but I will hop back on the med-go-round if I am unable to control the symptoms that way.

There are lots of meds out there, and I think you at least owe it to yourself to try, as merely existing isn't a lot of fun. I've been in remission for a year, and everything is just So. Much. Better. And if I'm being honest, I think I would go back on my daily meds and suffer the side effects if those turned out to be the only meds that worked. I don't want to suffer another lost decade, blow my life up yet again, or wind up dead.

I am slowly starting have a life again, and it's a life worth living. I can't imagine going back to the way things were. My worst fear is probably that my meds won't work the next time 'round, and I won't be able to find replacements that work as well. I've heard horror stories like that. Then again, meds sometimes simply poop out after a while, so there's no telling when that might happen. 

Of course not everyone gets fantastic results, but the possibility is out there. And considering just how great things can be, I think it's tragic when people don't even make the attempt. I went years without meds after being diagnosed bipolar, and I wish I could get those back. And the worst part is that I don't even really know why I didn't try the meds. I guess I was afraid of being zombified or not experiencing the highs any more. Plus I had issues accepting the diagnosis, so I guess I thought that not taking/needing the meds meant I wasn't really bipolar. It took one humdinger of a mixed episode to finally convince me that I needed the meds, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Anyway, I hope you can find a path forward to a better life, and that CB can help support you along the way. Good luck!

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On 5/25/2016 at 11:18 AM, PippaLove said:

 

The main side effects that I've had are excessive weight gain (not good since right now I'm a good 60 lbs overweight), tremors (that one freaked me out so bad because again, I felt I wasn't in control of my body), increased anger (which is the opposite of what I need since anger is already an issue) and apathy (just didn't care about anything...zombiefied).

I know that most of the side effects are in my head...like I expect them to happen, am looking for and just waiting for them...so they happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

IMO, the side effects are not in your head.  I mean like you are experimenting excessive weight gain, tremors, increased anger, and apathy ...

Are you saying all those are in your head?

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