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.
I know I’ve written about side effects in the past, and this is one topic we all seem to be on the same page about. Side effects suck! My latest endeavor has been trying to lose weight. Over the last year, I have put on a bit of weight, and am having a more difficult time than usual in getting rid of it. I examined my timeline of events- I went on my current cocktail of Lithium, Abilify, and Seroquel about a year and a half ago. And then last fall/winter my wife was pregnant and I know I can attribute some of my tummy to joining her in prego eating. Okay, between those two variables, I put on about 30 pounds. I realize to some, this doesn’t seem extreme. However, I am only 5’1″ and I have a petite frame. None of my clothes fit. I feel uncomfortable. The CDC rates my BMI as overweight. Yeah it’s time to take action.
I gave up sweets and other junk food. I stopped drinking soda. I don’t eat red meat, and I adopted a strict regimen of vegetables and fruits and lean protein. Nothing fried enters my mouth. I exercise. After a few months of this lifestyle change, I dropped barely 5 pounds. I couldn’t believe that my weight was hardly moving despite my efforts. I was really discouraged and trying not to become depressed.
This is when I decided to go further, and research my medications. I learned that two of the three meds I’m on have a tendency to contribute to weight issues. These weight issues include gaining of weight, and/or difficulty in losing excess pounds. Immediately I flashed back to about 12 years ago when I was an inpatient in the psych hospital, and I had gained a good 30 pounds within a month’s time. But that time Depakote was the culprit. I never want to go back to that feeling again. So I knew at that moment I had to consult with my psychiatrist. I hate the way I look. I’m tired of feeling bloated. If I can’t look good, then I don’t feel good.
I decided to ask him about alternatives to Seroquel. This was scary because the Seroquel really does seem to be a miracle drug for me. I figured the Seroquel had to be the problem child since I am on a medium to high dose. I am on a very low dose of Abilify so I didn’t think it was contributing as much. When I went to my last appointment, I expressed my concerns and explained the efforts I have been trying. He asked me to honestly tell him which of the two helps me more. Of course his question presented a battle internally for me- my own self-fueled convictions say “Seroquel makes you fattest”- but I knew the truth, and that was Seroquel helps me the most. Nights when I don’t take it, I cannot sleep and the next few days I’m completely thrown off. If I skip Abilify, I barely notice. I was honest with him. Clearly this resulted in his decision to wean me off of Abilify, and continue my Seroquel. He even informed me that Abilify is actually more prominent in weight issues than Seroquel, even at a low dose. He also mentioned that Zyprexa (which I had been on in the past) is not a good alternative to Seroquel when weight is a concern because it’s even worse thatn the other two. He said to continue what I have been doing in regards to eating and exercise, and in a couple of months I should notice a difference in my weight.
So, it has been a week. I’m watching what I eat and weighing myself. I came off the Abilify pretty smoothly. At this point we shall see. I’ll keep posted. If anyone has any stories of weight gain as a side effect, please share!
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.
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.
I don’t typically like to advertise my bipolar disorder, but once in awhile a little humor goes a long way. And I do feel people are sensationalizing bipolar disorder these days, therefore making it almost a trend. Blows my damn mind, really. But either way, it was definitely not cool at all when I was diagnosed. Nobody else had it and everyone I told had a reaction.
Shop here: Zazzle
Apparently I’m fighting mania. Apparently I didn’t realize this until I talked about it. Apparently.
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.
- It’s Spring. My witching season. Well, the start of it anyway. Summer is equally lethal. Warm weather heats my blood something good.
- I’m suffering from chronic boredom. Bored with work. Bored socializing. Bored at home. Bored in my marriage.
- I’m overstimulating in order to combat the boredom. Drinking. Music. A dozen social networks. Heavy involvement with friends.
- Becoming hypersexual. Collecting new erotic photography. Flirting. More self-stimulation than usual.
- 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.
- 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.
- My mind is racing. I struggle to focus at work. My ideas are flying around. I’m quite forgetful.
- Irritability. I’m moody and irritable. I seem to get annoyed easily with customers. And traffic. And television. And a few acquaintances.
- Fleeting desire to skip meds. I don’t want them. I don’t like them. So there.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Don’t take this song too deeply, but I think on some level it represents a chaotic mind. If anything, the tune is poppy as hell and down right catchy.
Tonight I finally had a date with my DVR and the pilot episode of the new ABC series, ‘Black Box’.
The show is about Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who works at The Center for Neurological Research and Treatment. This world famous doctor has bipolar disorder. She hides it from some, while others can’t escape from it.
Catherine, played by Kelly Reilly, has a non-compliance issue with taking her meds, which the show made prevalent when she decided to come off of them. Her mania was triggered, and she experienced symptoms such as delusions of grandeur, hypersexuality, hallucinations, increased energy, rapid speech, and grandiosity. She ended up hurting her boyfriend/(sort of fiance), and she almost messed things up at work. The show features Vanessa Redgrave as her psychiatrist, and shows them meeting often to discuss Catherine’s mental state and returning her to stability.
I really liked it! I had been obsessing about watching it for weeks before it premiered. So far, I can absolutely relate to Catherine, in terms of bipolar, and I can even say I idolized her a little bit. Yes, her actions made me think about my own non-compliance issues and I suddenly felt a desire to cut the drugs and free myself into a colorful mania of my own. I may or may not have made a comment about this, and my wife, who was watching it with me, gave me one of her famous “I don’t think so” looks. We have a deal that if I can’t stay on meds, she (and the baby) can’t stay with me. Okay, well that’s more of an ultimatum than a deal, but for the most part it works.
Anyway, I think that bipolar disorder was represented very well (except maybe the rapidness of the episode onset), and Dr. Catherine Black’s character was portrayed beautifully. I, personally, feel the symptoms are accurate and I have had most all of them myself. I think ‘Black Box’ is groundbreaking in the sense that bipolar disorder has never been seen before in this light. We have all dealt with such an incredible stigma due to our illness and this show expresses the rawness and truth of what manic and depressive episodes can be like. It is a very vulnerable and necessary place to be.
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?
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.
So much change going on right now. Change makes me moody. Change frustrates me. Change leaves me forgetful. Change makes things not boring. I hate change as much as I love it.
My current whirlwind of change:
Hello Spring. That’s right, the good old change of season has bestowed us. My bipolar always switches gears when there is a seasonal change. I know I have been reacting to the warmer weather and having more mood swings than usual. I feel it and I know everyone around me feels it.
This past week I returned to work after a five month lay off. I have a love/hate relationship with my job. Well, mostly with having a job, but yes, with my job too. As it turned out, much to my surprise, I was really good at doing the stay at home mom & housewife thing.
My wife began a new job after not working for three years. I’m really happy for her for landing a good job where her skills and degree can be utilized. It’s just so different because I’m used to her being home while I’m at work. And this was even before we had a child. While this is definitely a positive change, the new busy lifestyle will take some getting used to. It doesn’t help that I’ve been rather moody with her lately.
I had to drop my baby off at the sitter’s for the first time. This has been really emotional for me. I especially enjoyed spending time with him over the winter, and I was so fortunate to be able to have this quality time during his first few months of life. People don’t prepare you for the emotions you go through as a parent. I miss him constantly.
My sleep schedule has been completely rearranged. Obviously having a baby in the house alters your sleep already, but having the baby with each of our work schedules, puts our mornings and nighttimes into a whole new category. I must go to bed so early now just so I can wake up early enough to take over baby duty since my wife leaves at 6:00a.m. I now take my nighttime pills around 8:30p.m. so I can be asleep no later than 9:30. I know it’s manageable, but it’s just different. And a bit challenging.
I don’t know exactly what steps I need to take in order to get everything under control. Maybe I can let it ride out and fall into routine. Maybe I should talk to my psychiatrist. I guess I’ll see how bad the mood swings get as time goes on. There is just so much going on that it’s hard to even focus on everything each day. Surely I’ll keep posted as I monitor my crazy self.
Oh my goodness I need to rant right now. I don’t know what it is but my wife is seriously pissing me off today. For no apparent reason. I’m trying to put this situation into perspective. She just started a brand new job last week after two years being home, while I just returned to work this week after a five month lay-off. We have a four month old baby. We’re super exhausted. And I know with the seasonal changes upon us, my bipolar tends to remind me of it’s existence. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’m making excuses for our fighting. Maybe not. I hate feeling so angry.