Ambush Drug Test at my Psych Appointment- Wait, What?

I’m still shaking off my first experience with Medication Monitoring. This took place a few days ago, and I was completely bombarded, with no explanation, no warning, no consideration for my personal space.

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My pdoc appointment went quite smoothly. I talked about my grandfather’s funeral, about the baby, about being a temporary stay at home mom. We went through the checklist about side effects, mood fluctuations, and if I have any thoughts of harming myself (I don’t). Pdoc agreed we should keep my medications the same as they’d been, and he wrote up the new scripts. I gathered my wallet and keys, and started for the office door. Just before I hit the front desk, he informs me that everyone is taking a urinalysis for medication monitoring. I was a little confused. He laughed and said it’s to make sure people are taking their meds, and not selling their Adderall. Well since I take my meds and I don’t sell anything, I just agreed that it wasn’t a problem. I was also under the assumption that he would write me a prescription to take to a lab for the test proceedings. Those of you on Lithium know about this all too well. Was that what happened? Nope.

Surprise! As I walked through the second set of doors into the lobby, a woman I’d not seen before was standing there waiting for me with a little piss cup in her hand. She gestured toward the waiting room bathroom. I felt ambushed. No opportunity for questions, no discussion. I’d been at this psychiatric facility for almost ten years and never felt so put off. Honestly, I felt as if I were in trouble.

After I provided my little sample, she had me sign a form, supposedly for them to bill my insurance. This is also when I was given an informational card entitled, “Medication Monitoring Explained”.
Some key points given include:

  • Helps to understand what medications you are currently taking which could interfere with your prescribed medications.
  • Provides essential information for the safe and effective use of your medications.
  • Your doctor will determine how often you will be tested based on your medical needs.

The kicker in my situation is that in all definitions of the term, I failed my drug test. Yes, I had other substances in my system. I had been treating two pinched nerves in my back with a narcotic pain reliever for about three days, and I occasionally self-medicate with marijuana. During my grandfather’s death and funeral days, I smoked pot in the evenings. (For those of you just tuning in, I’ve always been a cannabis advocate.) The biggest clincher here is that I would have absolutely disclosed this information to my doctor had I any idea it would be relevant. (*Note: I do not promote the notion of self-diagnosing or self-medicating. In my instance, I have had much experience with these substances and I know how my body reacts, on prescribed meds and off.)

All in all, I understand and agree with new advances in patient treatment. If urinalysis is a tool in helping doctors help patients, then I support it. I really think, in my case anyway, that there needs to be a much different procedure in collecting the samples. I already feel vulnerable, as it is when working on my mental health, so in some ways I felt my trust had been violated.

Have any of you had experiences with medication monitoring? I’d like to hear your stories.

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Death & the Swinging Mood: Grieving When You Have Bipolar

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest things a person can go through. But what if you have bipolar disorder? Death affects people with mood disorders in different ways. I lost someone very close to me this past week, along with others since I began this blog, which is why I want to touch on some important elements of grieving when you have a mood disorder.

Emotions + Stress = Trigger Central
Normally people go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Of course there are variances for everyone, and not every person follows the textbook definition of how to be in each stage. Usually, in healthy-minded folks, they kind of just run their course naturally.

Someone with a mental illness, specifically a mood disorder such as bipolar (or unipolar depression), may experience certain stages more intensely or much longer than average, causing triggers, which lead to an episode or bipolar symptoms. Severe depression, irritability, irrational thinking/behavior, drug/alcohol abuse, and suicidal tendencies are some common symptoms triggered by death.

I know I mentioned in past posts that I often struggle with suicidal ideation. A little over a year ago I was triggered by a funeral I attended, which you can read about here, and I utilized certain tricks to push those thoughts from my mind. I recall also having this experience at a friend’s funeral a few years back. I was actually in the middle of perfecting a plan to take my own life when I received news of my friend’s overdose. That triggered me and my suicidal ideation sky-rocketed. Side note: I am currently in remission from suicidal feelings 🙂

The Funeral Mania Phenomenon
Funeral mania?! Yes. What the hell is it? Funeral mania when someone’s reaction to a death or a funeral is a manic episode occurring instantly or within a week of bereavement. This term can also be applied to those who become manic when a loved one is dying and has a very short time left. Funeral mania is a rare occurrence, and can be uncomfortable for the person experiencing it.

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I have absolutely experienced funeral mania. In fact, I almost became relieved when I read that this is a real thing. Four and a half years ago, my father was on Hospice, and I lost my shit. I was his caretaker during his last two months of life. Closer to the end, I never slept. I spent hours at his empty apartment organizing books, scrubbing ceiling fans, and perfecting the entire place before he had to turn the keys in. And when I did make the 45 minute drive to my own house, I still didn’t rest. I baked cakes. I reorganized my own basement. I moved everything from his apartment into my basement. At 3:00 in the morning. I went nonstop from a good week before his death, until I finally crashed more than a week after his death. I was 27, married, working, and in college. My dad’s death sent me soaring. I don’t remember crying once.

My cousin died two years ago, from cancer she had been hiding. She was only 44 years old. At this time, I was already struggling to find stability, and had recently experienced a severe mixed episode. I was freshly on my current med cocktail and I know my body wasn’t fully acclimated to it yet. Her death produced surges of adrenaline and a strong need to help with funeral planning. I camped out at my grandparents’ house for three days and didn’t sleep a wink. We have a large Italian family, and their house has always been the primary meeting spot. I thrived in the chaos. Every song that played, every old photo, every out of town aunt or cousin, I soaked it up. The food tasted so much better than food should taste. The fall air carried a fragrance like no other. I remember never feeling so alive.

If funeral mania sounds crazy to you, count yourself lucky. If you’re reading this, thinking that finally someone understands. Please know you are not alone! And that it is okay. I assume you already know that any time a manic or depressed episode linger around, it is best to talk to your doctor.

Too “stabilized” to feel?
As we know, mood stabilizers work hard to prevent you from sinking to Hades or flying above the clouds. Rather, you are functioning afloat this coveted baseline- not too happy, not too sad. I take my meds each day and night to achieve this. Therefore, I am stable, but never really too happy or too sad. This is fine for me. Until BOOM! Life thwarts my plans and my dear loved one dies. I am sad. I am very, very sad. I know that I am sad. But dammit, I cannot feel the level of sad that I need to be in order to feel better. It is beyond frustrating. Of course I attempted to use this as a reason to stop taking Lithium, and I presented my argument to my wife/med manager. She helped bring a little clarity on the subject, and while it really sucks to not have the ability to dip down super low, at least I know I can get through this without uprooting the safe stability I’ve worked to achieve.

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Hopefully this gave you guys a little bit of perspective. I think I needed to write it as part of my current grieving process. 

Life Goes On, Even When No One Gives a Shit

Surely, you all have forgotten about me. Worse yet, you think I have forgotten you. Or even worse, you think I couldn’t handle the commitment of a blog and I simply gave up. I assure you this 4 month hiatus has resulted in none of the above. I intend to fulfill the promises I keep making to the Nectar Madness Facebook page, and spit out some new posts. I could sit here and give you a list of what I’ve been up to and why I haven’t been writing, but that’s damn boring. So instead let’s pick it up where we left off. God knows my head is spinning something crazy and I have plenty to jabber on about. Plus, this new WP layout looks like an interesting new toy.

Thanks for reading. Oh & Happy New Year!
-NM

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Positivity and Creativity for a Healthy Mind

I was determined to start this weekend better than the ones I’ve had in recent months. No demons allowed, only positive, healthy activities. Since photography is one of my long lost hobbies, I decided to tackle the project of my son’s 9-month photos. It was a beautiful day for the nearby park. My baby finally fit into the outfit his aunt gave him. My wife agreed to help me. I had no excuses.

I did have a period of irritability when a fellow amateur photographer made some rude remarks, setting me off. My wife had to stop me from fighting with her. Other than that, we had a really great day. And his photos turned out really great too!

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I practiced positive thinking, while utilizing creativity, in a healthy manner. I’m pleased to say that I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something to nurture my mind and abilities. I know it’s not always easy but I consider today a baby step.

 

Interview with Nectar Madness

Hey everyone, a little while ago I did an interview for ‘My Bipolar Roller Coaster’ about my bipolar disorder diagnosis, and my experiences with the illness. If you want to know more about yours truly, check it out. Also, check out this awesome mental health blog.

Running Amok with Both Feet on the Ground

I tried to write yesterday on my train ride home, but my hangover wouldn’t allow it. Other than that, Chicago was really fun and it was great to see my friend. I got over my risky sense of adventure and complied with my medications. Well, that, and my friend apparently took notes from my wife, and insisted on med checks each morning and night. In a way it is kind of nice to have a friend respect my bipolar, and care enough to not let me get off balance. Personally, I also think she was afraid if I did become manic or do something regrettable, my wife would never be comfortable with me visiting her again. But that’s just speculation.

As you recall from my last post, I was teetering on the edge of mania. The excited flutters were on speed, and I was feeling more alive than ever. It was interesting to have such a sense of freedom away from home. My wife tends to be pretty strict on me because of my bipolar. I certainly don’t regard her as controlling or bossy, so don’t think that. But she helps me stay on track, refrain from heavy intoxication, and avoid over-stimulation, which leads to episodes. Traveling alone out of state for four days is definitely a situation that stimulates. Activities we partook in included attending an epic Tegan and Sara concert (my obsession), shopping in Boystown, chowing on sushi, playing downtown, and having a few beers. I was careful to not over-indulge. I was careful to not test boundary limits with my friend. I was careful to call home when I could. I was careful to spend wisely. Slow and steady.

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I did experience an incredible surge of energy while on my trip. The feeling literally led me to be really physical and run amok in the park downtown. I know for a fact my friend thinks I’m crazy. And I love it.

Linda is the name of the elderly liberal I made friends with on the train ride home. I’m not sure, but I think she could be a lesbian. She was a joy to converse with, in between book and iPod sessions, for those six hours. I even hugged her after I helped her with her luggage upon her departure.

It is nice to be home. I missed my wife and my son. I appreciate that she is comfortable with me having adventures. I know she understands how bored I can get. If I am not given playtime, I end up finding it. And that usually means finding trouble.

Thanks for following my little story. It was a bit of an accomplishment to remain balanced this week.

All Aboard the Manic Train!

The train horn induces an ear-to-ear grin type of euphoria. Maybe it’s the heat with the sun shining the brightest it’s ever been. Maybe it’s the Tegan and Sara I’ve been playing on repeat for days. Maybe it’s because I will attend their concert in less than 24 hours. Maybe it’s because this is my first time traveling alone. Maybe I’m just excited to see my good friend and stay in her Chicago apartment.

(Side note: I ‘met’ this friend during a slightly manic phase about four years ago. Actually, I anonymously sought her out online because I liked the way she looked and thought she seemed cool. I randomly sent her a friend request. She surprisingly accepted. I initiated conversation until she eventually let me in. Exchanged numbers and life stories. And we’ve officially met in person twice now. Today will be number three.)

What caused this mental tickle to develop may be a combination of all the above. I don’t know. But I do know that I keep singing aloud on this hushed locomotive. I’ve also laughed aloud a few times. I just feel so amazing! I truly have so much excitement in my little self that I may explode! I am absolutely in love with everything and everyone right now.

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I don’t know if I should be taking notes on these incredible feelings. I kind of want to say fuck it, and just allow myself to really feel everything. Either way, I’ll check in at some point.

For Shits and Giggles, I Now Have a Tumblr

Because two WordPress blogs weren’t enough. Because a Facebook blog page, a personal Facebook, an Instagram, Pinterest, and two Twitter accounts simply weren’t enough. You can now find my crazy self on Tumblr as The Bipolar Lesbian.

My purpose for creating this mini blog is pure simplicity, all the while combining two parts of myself- my sexual orientation and my mental illness. I plan to showcase media such as photos, gifs, videos, and music. I also want to make this a designated space for my poetry, which I will be pouring more of myself into here in the future.

Tumblr has been around for a little while now, but is growing at an increasingly fast rate. If you have a Tumblr account, or are interested, I recommend checking out my baby blog. I want to have fun with it and with an audience, I can deliver just that!

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It Went Too Fast, Love – a poem about heartbreak

If I could, I really would
Catch every tear that fell.
Though I know I really should
Accept that time will tell.

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

I imagine her expression,
As she quickly shut the door.
All too clear was her rejection.
I clean the pieces from the floor.

Strawberries fragrant in the air,
Strawberry scented, like her hair.

Tire tracks provide evidence,
Matching tread marks on my heart.
Spinning sick, it makes no sense.
There came an end before a start.

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

Her fingerprints left in the dust,
Silky strands clogged in the drain.
That skin was more than glowing lust,
Her ideals around this room remain.

Strawberries fragrant in the air,
Strawberry scented, like her hair.

Need an intervention of the soul.
May I have the will to dream?
Once was fire, now burned a hole.
Is this as broken as it seems?

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

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Saying it Aloud Makes it Real

Apparently I’m fighting mania. Apparently I didn’t realize this until I talked about it. Apparently.

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I knew a few factors were surfacing, but I didn’t realize just how many signs of mania were actually present in my life until I shared my current state at my DBSA support group meeting last night.

Let’s begin by examining the facts – the manic stuff.

  1. It’s Spring. My witching season. Well, the start of it anyway. Summer is equally lethal. Warm weather heats my blood something good.
  2. I’m suffering from chronic boredom. Bored with work. Bored socializing. Bored at home. Bored in my marriage.
  3. I’m overstimulating in order to combat the boredom. Drinking. Music. A dozen social networks. Heavy involvement with friends.
  4. Becoming hypersexual. Collecting new erotic photography. Flirting. More self-stimulation than usual.
  5. Planning. I’m planning a mini vacation by myself next month to stay with a friend and attend my favorite band in concert. Okay- my obsession in concert. Which brings me to number 6.
  6. I can’t help the obsessions. Tegan and Sara have been my loves for over a decade. I can’t get enough. Literally. I’m also obsessing over my marriage. And the lack of sex.
  7. My mind is racing. I struggle to focus at work. My ideas are flying around. I’m quite forgetful.
  8. Irritability. I’m moody and irritable. I seem to get annoyed easily with customers. And traffic. And television. And a few acquaintances.
  9. Fleeting desire to skip meds. I don’t want them. I don’t like them. So there.
  10. Spending money. My wife is our financial manager, but I have managed to find an unusual amount of reasons to need money lately.

Let’s examine things further – the not so manic stuff.

  1. I am indeed still taking the meds. I toy with the idea of stopping. Regardless of those thoughts, I comply with treatment. My wife is mostly to thank for this.
  2. I have a job. And I go to it. Every day. On time. It’s often difficult to function with a spinning head and chronic restlessness. But I’m there.
  3. I take excellent care of my son. For some reason, this part really works for me. He’s healthy. He’s happy. He’s dressed, changed, fed, and snuggled. I manage to drop him off at my sister’s every morning. It’s a miracle, maybe.
  4. I’m not as bad as I’ve been. Maybe the meds are preventing me from falling into full-blown mania.

What is my next step? Well, that is a good question because I am conflicted. Right now I am incredibly tempted to succumb to the manic triggers that pacify my boredom. I flashback to last summer- too much booze, too much pot, too much fraternizing for a married woman, never needing sleep, and rounds of fighting with my wife. I look at how things are right now and I’m not where I was last year.

Am I heading there? I guess I can’t say for sure. I will try to vow to stay on the meds in order to prevent it. My psychiatrist already doubled my Seroquel to balance me out. The fact that I really am chronically bored and I crave excitement may be what drives my actions. It’s a vulnerable thing to feel so unpredictable.

 

My Insecurities Have Insecurities, a poem

Her name is envy, and I water her with her praise.
She depletes me of my passion with her charismatic ways.
My green-eyed goddess is introspectively corrupt.
Yet she triggers the deepest fire, fighting to erupt.

Motivation, situation, inspirational attack.
Sheer ambition, meditation, intuition that I lack.

My game is wilted, and I feed my own revolt.
Therapy and drugs leave me grasping in the cold.
My domestic bliss is superstitiously corrupt.
Clawing to escape the deepest fire, fighting to erupt.

Motivation, situation, inspirational attack.
Sheer ambition, meditation, intuition that I lack.

The shame has surfaced, and I hide from the very truth.
I don’t satisfy my convention so I pacify and soothe.
My aspiring lust for life doesn’t seem so corrupt.
Self-induced rage is the deepest fire, fighting to erupt.

Motivation, situation, inspirational attack.
Sheer ambition, meditation, intuition that I lack.

That blame is distended to all the other girls.
A lack of confidence wreaking havoc in my world.
My insecurities fully weighted and corrupt.
Sabotage destruction of the deepest fire, fighting to erupt.

Motivation, situation, inspirational attack.
Sheer ambition, meditation, intuition that I lack.

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The Time My Mania Impulsively Bought A Hot Rod

I was nineteen and in the early years of my bipolar diagnosis. I was old enough to know better and young enough not to care. And I was manic. I held a part time job, went to community college, and drove a perfectly fine car for a young person. But I was bored. I was always bored. I stumbled across a photo of a bad ass hot rod in the paper, and decided I had to have it. This vehicle was a Cougar with custom leather seats, bright blue velour upholstery, custom airbrush graphics of skulls on the interior panels, under carriage lights, a chrome skull on the grill, and was lowered two inches. This tinted-window beauty was a retired show car, also the winner of over fifteen trophies, and named ‘Car of the year’ by Hot Rod Magazine. Amid the purple and blue flames on the body, was a tiny grim reaper, and beside him read the air brushed slogan “Evil shouldn’t look this good”. The name of the car was also printed on the back, “Wicked”.  I know it sounds cheesy as hell. But back in the day, it was hot.

I immediately drove the hour to Wicked’s home, and took her for a long test drive. The sound system was kickin; the breeze in my hair. I fell in love with the chrome rims and skull shaped shifter. The owner even threw in a matching lighter.

Boom. I handed him a fat wad of cash. It was everything I had won from a lawsuit the previous year, probably in savings for a reason. But who cares?  Wicked was mine!

I drove her home, feeling the biggest rush. I could sense everyone on the road looking in my direction. This car was hot. It made me hot.

When I showed my mother, whom I was sharing an apartment with at the time, she was in shock. She reminded me that I already had a car and didn’t need two. She couldn’t believe I’d spent all my money. While she made an effort to be happy for me, looking back, I can see she was uncertain it was the best idea.

I was in love with the attention I got. This was exactly what I needed to fuel my manic high. There was no other vehicle like this on the road. I was unique. And very grandiose.

I landed myself a fair share of tickets over time. It got backed into once, causing some damage. It had also been broken into on multiple occasions. The car was even stolen once, but oddly, I found it myself. While Wicked was beautiful (and the exact drug i needed), I wasn’t able to take proper care of her and ended up selling her to a drunk guy in the dark.

Have you ever made an impulsively large purchase while manic? 

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Not in the Mood for a Mood Disorder Right Now

I am losing it. I cannot focus on anything, I’m irritable, I’m restless, and my mind feels like it’s traveling in circles at super speeds. I’m disinterested in my work and I’m mean to my wife. With each moment that I try to function normally, I seem to feel worse. My moods are up and down. I really wasn’t prepared for brain chaos right now. I’m even more pissed off that I’m dealing with this altogether. I’ve been enduring a plethora of change lately, including the season changing, and I tend to experience mood swings when things change. I mentioned this in a previous post.  I should call my psychiatrist, but of course, I’m reluctant. I don’t want more medication. I realize my reluctance is a symptom. My immaturity is waiting for my wife to push me to see him. I’m ashamed of my immaturity because it highlights my lack of responsibility. I hate myself because I was so stable these past several months. I don’t know why I think I can control when things get out of whack. I understand I can only treat it. Each night I go to bed and think tomorrow it will go away, but it hasn’t yet.