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.
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?
Today I feel like a star,
Today I’m more alive than ever.
This time I know I’ll get far,
It’s time to show them my clever.
Today my mind is sound,
Today I manipulate the waves.
Upon me is a new sense of found,
Clothe me in fragments that saved.
Today I dress up the world,
Today I invest in my heart.
I am no longer a tortured girl,
It is no longer backward from start.
Today my blood is hot,
Today I depend on my fire.
An action shows what you’ve got,
Reaction will lead to desire.
Today the sun bathes my skin,
Today electricity swallows my veins.
I thirst for the notion to begin,
I absorb these emotions, wild and strange.
One of the toughest challenges for those with mental illness is maintaining relationships. It takes extra effort and compassion. I am lucky to be married to a strong, amazing woman. This poem is in tribute to that part of my marriage.
Diamond In The Rough
Driving alone, I love the dark.
I take the freeway to your heart.
Breathe my dust into your lungs,
A gentle scratch and we are done.
My blood is bitter; you taste sweet.
You watched me shatter on the street.
Was that in vain?
Am I still stable?
Think it’s time to cut my cable.
A glittered sundown with a barren tomorrow,
I fill your being with elated sorrow.
Did you yell?
Or cry it out?
Polluted words flee my mouth.
You inhale this whirlwind even still,
Through hazy hearts, I feel your will.
Am I the diamond in your rough?
Let me know when it’s enough.