Happy Bipolar Moment Friday

My bipolar moment came this morning when I accidentally took my PM meds in place of my AM meds. Let’s just say coffee is no match to a healthy dose of Seroquel. Of course the moment I swallowed it, I immediately panicked. I had to to get up and get ready for work. For those of you on Seroquel, you may be able to relate when I say this particular medication makes you extremely groggy and produces a sudden desperation for sleep. It’s great for nighttime. I get a decent 6-8 hours. Not great this morning. Upon my freak out, I darted off to the bathroom and attempted to vomit up the pill. It’s fair to say I could never make it as a bulimic. I literally lack the ability to throw up on the spot. Now I panicked a little more. No disposing of it, surely it has begun to creep into my bloodstream. Wishing for an anecdote, I took my regular morning meds, which consist of Lithium and Abilify. And Adderall. Yes, I am prescribed a low dose of Adderall for co-occurring ADHD. That’s it! I’ll take the stimulant, eat a sandwich, and guzzle some coffee. Still stressed that I would be very late for work and my boss would be displeased with my tardiness, I felt the drowsiness kick in. My only real option was to sleep it off. That’s what I did. And I took the max amount of Adderall I could take, downed some more coffee, made up a convincing excuse for my boss, and slid into the office three hours late. Happy bipolar moment Friday.

designer

 

Advertisements

How Is Your Mood Affected By Social Media?

Lately I’ve been noticing negative characteristics in the posts appearing in my Facebook home feed. Among these- depressing observations, pissed off rants, woe is me, FML, and general complaints. I can’t help but notice that there is so much negative in front of my eyes every single day. It’s not just on Facebook. It’s all over Twitter (which I thankfully rarely use), Instagram, and other social networks as well. I find myself rushing to scroll past certain Debbie Downers just because I don’t like the way they make me feel. I can’t help but wonder about the people who say FML on a daily basis. Constant black clouds really tend to affect my mood. The reason I log on to social networks is for enjoyment; an escape for a few minutes of my day.

So this brings me to the question, how does social networking affect one’s mood? In today’s world, we are glued to our smart phones or sitting behind our computer screens. Just this blog alone is considered social media. We’re all so interconnected that we tend to overshare. Oversharing leads to those with nothing but negativity to display. I look at the negativity from two different perspectives. A.) They are looking for attention and have nothing better to do but bring everyone around them down. A.K.A. misery loves company. B.) The depressing nature of their posts are a cry for help.

For those who recreationally complain, I wish they’d be more considerate of their readers. Yes, I know if I don’t like it, I can just delete that person. But one shouldn’t have to be faced with that kind of decision. After reading a feed full of rage or sadness, I must say I don’t feel good. I’m not saying that these folks ruin my day or anything, but I log on in hopes of reading something intriguing, enlightening, humorous, someone sharing a fun event, or even giving thanks. Sure, there are some positive posts, but usually among the whining ones. Or worse yet- the politically bashing memes that litter my feed. I support the freedom of speech, I really do. But I’m here to talk about moods and this is definitely one area that can be pretty grey.

Now, if someone is posting depressing statuses and/or pictures, it could very well be a cry for help. Maybe this person is truly going through a hard time or suffering from an illness. While it is possible, it should be handled in an arena other than popular social networks. I believe there is a time and place for everything and I don’t like my moods being dictated by the moods of others. Maybe you also have this experience, or can relate to what I’m saying.

08f0d2ced846b2cccfbb008e55cc6c7e

Maybe Baby? Should I Consider a Bipolar Pregnancy?

I need some input on this one. My wife and I have been seriously discussing the notion of having my bipolar highness carry our second child. Yes, I’m aware this sounds presumptuous, considering our first won’t even be here until December, but it is well known that a great deal of preparation must go into a bipolar pregnancy. Because we are getting older, and because we want our brood to grow up close in age, it’s wise to consider all factors ahead of time. Not to mention that we are indeed, a lesbian couple with limited resources (ahem, readily available man ingredients), and the mere truth that there is a higher percentage of difficulty in getting pregnant via IUI or IVF. So, we are doing our research and talking openly. The process of fertilization aside, what we both feel most concerning is my bipolar disorder. This is the weighing factor. She supports me if I decide I want to do it, but she is wise to be cautious.  I’m scared and unsure, as well as confident I could do it if I really wanted. I go back and forth on the subject all the time. So I’ve decided to weigh it out here. Help me pick apart my bipolar pregnancy anxieties.
 
7356b3eee10dbc3a7168b1d369081848
 
I would have to come off of or significantly reduce my medications during pre-pregnancy.
As we learned with this current pregnancy, when going through intrauterine insemination (IUI), the months leading up to the actual insemination must be treated as carefully as if you were already pregnant. This is because the body is going through preparations, which may include fertility drugs, in order to promote healthy ovulation. What does this mean for the bipolar end? Well, it means weaning off of medications that could potentially be dangerous for a developing fetus. Mood stabilizers such as Lithium, or anti-convulsants, are known to cause severe birth defects. Other classes of medications include antipsychotics, which should be avoided due to lack of research, and tranquilizers or sedatives, which should be avoided, especially in the first trimester, also due to increased risk of congenital malformations.  Now, I know some researchers say certain things are alright to be on in low doses, but you have to remember it’s a timely and costly venture for us gay chicks to get knocked up. Why in the world would I dare to risk anything potentially hazardous to unborn baby? Why would anyone, really?
 
I would have to remain off of meds for several months during pregnancy.
Okay, you already know why I’d have to come off of medication. Common sense says I’d have to stay off for the duration of the 38-40 weeks of carrying the baby. And unless I decide not to breastfeed, I will have to remain off during the nursing months as well. My head spins a little further and I imagine life not on meds… To begin, what’s different already is that we’d have a little one around. I’d have to maintain parenting an almost two-year old, while my hormones are changing in ways I cannot even imagine, all while being off of the medication I rely on for stability. I would have to try not to destroy my marriage, become hopelessly depressed, fly away on a manic spree, or worse yet- develop psychosis. I’m not really sure what they do with a pregnant person in the mental hospital when you can’t consume the drugs. I can, however, imagine the manic version of nesting and it sounds quite colorful indeed!    
 
It’s scary to not be in control of potentially changing moods under the influence of hormonal changes.
The last thing I would want to do is jeopardize my family. My beautiful wife will be giving birth to our son in just two short months, and already I love him more than I imagined I ever could. We certainly want to add on to our family and I consider my role in doing just that. I think about what I contribute now. I work a steady job, I do my share to keep the house clean and put together, I take care of our many loving pets, and I try my best to be a good wife. I’m able to play these roles because I am on a strict medication regimen, I am in touch with my triggers, my body, and my mind. Have I had major episodes that were beyond my control? Absolutely. And yes, they impaired each of these roles significantly. Now, if I were carrying a baby, off of medication, I wonder how I would be affected by the many hormonal changes that come along with pregnancy. I would need to have prepared some coping techniques for when things seem out of control. Part of my preparation would be to have an outlet, where I could put my energy in the case of a trigger, to help steer me back on track. Maintaining some area of control would be imperative, not only for me, but for the growing baby, and my family as well. 
 
The heart-wrenching feeling that I could be passing my bipolar to my baby. And knowing it.
While no exact gene can be determined as of yet, researchers have found that a child with a parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder, can be somewhere around 50% more likely to also have bipolar disorder or some other psychiatric illness. Whoa. Ok let’s be real for a minute. No parent would ever want their child to have to suffer from any type of illness, medical or psychiatric. So part of me feels like I would knowingly be putting this baby at risk for developing bipolar. Is that irrational? (Is it bad that I can’t tell if it’s irrational?) Maybe my anxieties are taking a toll, but I want to be a good mother. And I know that starts at pre-conception. That baby would have an increased risk of developing bipolar growing in me, as opposed to a safer route, and having my wife carry all of our babies. (Which I’m totally okay with too- she is ADORABLE pregnant!) 
 
Postpartum instability and re-entering the drug sphere.
Say I do manage to get through pregnancy and childbirth, med-free, family still likes me, etc. Okay, now the hormones take a whole new shift postpartum, often causing changes in mood. Some women fall into a depression, others become incessantly irritable or have crying spells. I may or may not have these issues, but it’s good to be aware of the flood of hormones. Now, judging from my own illness, my past, what has and hasn’t worked for me, I will be going back on medication. The thoughts in my mind, however, include What if my old meds don’t work for me anymore? Do I have to start over? I don’t want to go through trial and error while caring for a newborn, Is it okay to not breast feed?  I guess there are probably a million more things that will take over my brain if I did go through the process, but each of these are important questions to be answered. 
 
In a way, it is selfish of me to carry a child.
Perhaps I’m over thinking, but on one hand, I look at hetero couples, with a man and a woman, and I think there is only one womb, only one of them can carry a baby. If the woman in that relationship has bipolar disorder, then do they have a bigger dilemma than us? Would it be selfish of me to want to carry a child when my relationship has another perfectly good womb in which plant a seed? This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever been faced with. And while I don’t need to know today, I eventually need to make my decision. My wife is very understanding either way, and is in no way pressuring me, which I truly appreciate. She is, also, more than happy to carry again. Part of my brain looks at the cautions and repercussions involved with me taking on pregnancy. Then, a teensy part of my mixed up brain realizes that other bipolar moms have accomplished this remarkable task and came out of it better than ever.
 
If anyone has gone through this or if you have any any advice, thoughts, anything- I’d really like some input! 
 

Information on Bipolar Disorder

I thought this was a pretty clear breakdown of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

A Short Bipolar Disorder Summary 
Bipolar disorder, is a serious brain disorder. Also known as manic-depressive illness, it is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. The person’s mood usually swings from overly “high” and irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. It is often not recognized as an illness and people who have it may suffer needlessly for years or even decades.

ImageEffective treatments are available that greatly alleviate the suffering caused by bipolar disorder and can usually prevent its devastating complications. These include marital breakups, job loss, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide.

Facts about bipolar disorder:

  • Manic-depressive illness has a devastating impact on many people.
  • At least 2 million Americans suffer from manic-depressive illness. For those afflicted with the illness, it is…

View original post 1,100 more words

Say it Forward Campaign to End Stigma

Stigma. We all have experienced it at one time or another. Maybe directly, maybe vicariously, maybe we’ve simply been affected by the very notion of it. We’ve been made to feel embarrassed and ashamed about having a mental illness. We’ve been hesitant to seek help. We have certainly attempted to hide our mental illness from people we know. We tend to blame ourselves and feel out of place. It’s time we join together and do something about stigma. Here is someone who has:

When it comes to mental health conditions, silence is not golden. Silence breeds stigma, and stigma hurts: it prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. That’s why the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) have joined forces to promote Say It Forward 2013, an email and social media anti-stigma campaign that educates people about the reality of mental health conditions.

The Say it Forward Campaign is a fantastic quest to reach out to others to educate them on the facts of mental illness. The campaign sight offers three ways to contact people you know either through email, Twitter, or Facebook, and then provides this list of myths and facts:

Myth: I don’t know anyone who has a mental health condition.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 4 people, or 25% of individuals, develops one or more mental health disorders at some stage in life. They are your family, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors.

Myth: Mental health conditions are not real medical illnesses.
Fact: Like heart disease and diabetes, mental health disorders are real, treatable conditions.

Myth: Bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions are not life-threatening.
Fact: Among individuals with bipolar disorder, 25–50% attempt suicide at least once, and suicide is a leading cause of death in this group. This serious condition can be treated, and treatment saves lives.

Myth: People with a severe mental illness are dangerous and violent.
Fact: Statistics show that those who live with from mental health conditions are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator. They are nearly five times more likely to be a victim of murder, and people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychosis are 2.5 times more likely to be attacked, raped, or mugged than the general population.

Myth: People with a mental health conditions aren’t capable of maintaining relationships or pursuing the career of their choice.
Fact: Individuals with mental health conditions can and do lead full, happy, productive lives—as mothers, friends, and spouses; as teachers, doctors, and lawyers.

It is important to have these conversations with loved ones and friends. Using the myths and facts is a wonderful tool in breaking the ice on the topic of mental illness. The campaign encourages each one of us to become involved and help put an end to stigma once and for all.

To learn more about the Say it Forward Campaign, check out their website: http://www.sayitforwardcampaign.org/

Sources: http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/  and  http://www.dbsalliance.org/

Say it fwd

Medication Report!

I’m writing this to check in, with myself mostly, but also with those of you taking medication for Bipolar Disorder. It has been almost one year on my current cocktail of Lithium, Seroquel, and Abilify. As a reminder, I was put on (varying doses) of this combo after a terrible mixed episode last fall. In the beginning it was considerably difficult to build a new med routine since I was so used to taking only Trileptal twice a day. But with the assistance of my amazing wife, I was able to get on board. After about 6 months, I even began sorting and distributing them myself. I know many of you know what a small victory that can be!

Medication management can be challenging. Important factors include making sure each script is filled, that you have enough for tomorrow, how many you are taking, how often, knowing what to do if you forget to take it, being aware of and dealing with side effects, whether you need to have blood drawn or not, having effective communication with your doctor and pharmacist, and of course being able to monitor how your meds are affecting you. Whew! It really helps to have someone close to you that you can talk about your medications with, or that can lend a hand in monitoring and managing your meds. Also, utilizing calendars or alarms on your cell phone (like I do!) to remind you what time to take your pills is really handy. Developing a solid routine that works for your schedule is important so taking your meds becomes like second nature.

These are just a few tips I picked up within the last year that have worked for me. So far, I am doing well, and I feel pretty stable. There will always be ups and downs and mood swings, but the medication change was definitely necessary and saved me from a trip to the hospital. Every so often we all need to check in with ourselves and take personal medication inventory.

Image  

Hypomanic Denial? Or Do I Need A Clue?

It’s possible that I’m falling ahead of myself and stumbling, scraping my own dumb forehead in the process. My wife feels my recent behaviors have triggered hypomania, resulting in her fear of full blown mania. Is she correct? I don’t know, really. You could say it all started when I self-righteously decided to participate in alcohol related activities after a five year drinking hiatus. Not one drop of liquid intoxication for just over five years. Until now. About two months ago I had a drink, socially, with friends. It filled me with warm nostalgia, and a license to cut loose. I don’t know if this has anything to do with my changed view on life, or my desire to “live it up” before the baby gets here, but I know that I feel good. I have been a lot more social with my group of friends as well. Admittedly, I have gone out multiple nights in a row, on a few occasions. I also made the mistake of staying out until 5am. More than once. Okay, not my finest moments… But I want to take up every opportunity to have fun before we will be consumed with diapers and midnight feedings. I don’t think this constitutes as hypo anything. I usually listen to my wife’s observations and concerns, but I don’t feel as energetic as she says I am. I don’t see the downward spiral she sees. I see myself living up my last child-less summer. Am I selfish? Am I in denial?

I look at some main triggers of hypomania, and they include: drinking alcohol or using mind-altering drugs, taking a trip, major change or life event, over-stimulation and excitement, overall restlessness or boredom, excessive noise or partying. Examining these triggers makes me wonder if my wife has a point. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t describe my life as of lately. I just returned from a trip, I’m attending two music concerts tomorrow, I’ve been drinking with my friends, and to top it off, I have an out of town friend, whom I met online, coming to meet me this weekend for the first time. I’ve completely screwed up my friendship with my best friend, and I allowed my irresponsibility get the best of me two days ago, as I hurt my wife’s feelings in unexplainable ways. I suppose I’m moving fast and fucking up, but I feel fine, I don’t feel manic!

Mania is what I know. The racing thoughts, pressured speech, the euphoria, the hyper-sexuality, the larger than life ideals and philosophies, the grandiosity, delusions, and obsessions. This is not mania. This is living. Isn’t it? Am I naive to my own existence?    

Travel Tips for Bipolar Disorder

In one week I will be going on a short vacation, traveling from Michigan to Kentucky to visit with family. Even though the trip’s a week away, the travel anxiety started days ago. You know that panicky feeling of not having everything you need in order to be comfortable and secure? Yeah that’s how I feel. My Bipolar tends to trigger when I feel unsettled. I hate feeling unprepared for things. One time my wife and I flew to California and I just about lost my flipping mind. I couldn’t control my outbursts or random crying spells. The time zone threw me off and I hated the airplane. I even picked fights with my wife. While I genuinely loved California, I sure as hell didn’t show it. From that point I vowed to not allow this scene to repeat itself. I vowed to be prepared for all future trips.

I have two separate lists. One is all the things I need to do before we leave, the other is everything we need to bring with us. I don’t care if the to-do list includes painting my toenails, because I know if I don’t do it, I will feel unfinished. Anxiety makes me hyper-sensitized to the littlest things. I’m confident that checking off my lists this far in advance will allow me to have a more relaxed and outburst-free trip.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of Bipolar Disorder and travel, and here are some good tips that I’ve come up with:

  • If there is a time zone change, practice for the zone before you leave. This means going to bed and getting up on your destination time. The closer you can get to the time, the better.
  • Sleep regularly while you are there. Disturbed sleep is a prime suspect in triggering episodes.
  • Forecast your destination activities. Adrenaline pumping activities, unlimited access to alcohol, large crowds of people, personality-clashing relatives, crammed quarters, or even a climate you’re not used to can all affect Bipolar Disorder.
  • Be prepared with your medications. Make sure you count out enough meds for each day you’ll be gone, so you don’t run out before returning home. Carry you doctor’s and your pharmacy information just in case. You might even want to talk to your doctor about trying something for anxiety if you feel it will be an issue during your travels.
  • Practice relaxation. Try deep breathing exercises or meditating. These are great to use if things get a little too busy and you feel yourself start to lose it. Slowly breathe in, counting to five, then exhale counting backward from five. Repeat three times.

4a00ae47faec0e023f7c593e4463e92b

Overall the biggest piece of advice I can give is to plan ahead. Have your map, your GPS, your debit cards, portable snacks, and comfortable shoes all set and ready. If you plan ahead, you will be able to spend more time focusing on what’s truly important. So far I’m taking my own advice and I hope I can make it through the next week calmly, then enjoy some R & R.

Thoughts on Bipolar and Cannabis

I just smoked a joint in a thunderstorm. I don’t fancy storms and I cry like a fucking baby if I have to endure them. I occasionally use pot to ease my Bipolar moods and mellow me out when I’m a little too up. Some researchers say it is beneficial to relieving Bipolar symptoms, while others feel marijuana only worsens it. I don’t know about you, but I’m pro-cannabis. And indeed, today, it relaxed me during a horrible storm. While smoking an occasional joint eases my hyperness & clears my head, it also enhances my creative side. I can produce ideas more organically, without all the extra head noise distraction. I suppose there is one drawback and that is once it has worn off, I seem to have a lack of memory for the things I come up with. But whether I create or not, I feel calm and in control. Maybe you or someone you know also uses cannabis for your Bipolar treatment.

20130617-215119.jpg

Hair Loss Is Just Another Side Effect

Let’s talk side effects for a minute. Common ones are dry mouth, tremors, sleepiness, upset stomach, and weight gain. What about hair loss? I’m talking constant loose strands, hair falling to the floor every time I touch my head, handfuls when I shampoo. I keep a Swiffer vac by my side whenever I blow dry and straighten my hair because otherwise the bathroom is decorated with what has released from my scalp. For months now I have been attributing this to everything from what I was eating, to needing a haircut, using the wrong shampoo, not washing it enough, washing it too much, not brushing it enough, brushing it too much- you catch my drift.

Then it dawned on me that this began around the time my medication was switched and I started on Lithium. After doing a little research, I have now learned that I’m not alone in this situation. According to bipolar.about.com, Lithium and Depakote are common culprits in the hair loss manifesto.

Lithium can cause thyroid problems which are associated with losing hair. Other than that, it isn’t specifically known why certain drugs cause thinning hair, but what happens is a process called telogen effluvium. Normally, most hair is in the active growing phase, while a much smaller proportion is in the resting, or telogen, phase. Growing hair pushes the resting hair out. When a medication causes many more hair follicles to enter the resting stage than is usual, there is less hair growing and more to be pushed out — or pulled out, whether by shampooing, brushing and combing, or just running your hands through your hair.

Image

At this point, I am really getting tired of dealing with this. I also find it interesting that it is a side effect you don’t hear about very much. I have been on several different cocktails and have experienced a rainbow of side effects, but this is new for me. I just had an appointment with my psychiatrist and I didn’t think to mention it, but at my next appointment I definitely will see what he says. As for everything I’ve read on how to remedy this situation, decreasing or discontinuing the medication is the most effective solution. Unfortunately, this will not be an option for me right now. I feel better than I did 6 months ago, and I know the meds play a huge role in that. Now I’m just curious if anyone here else has experienced this and how you’ve handled it.