Happy Anniversary to Nectar Madness!

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. In lieu of this little milestone, I’d like to reflect on what the world of writing and what creating this blog mean to me.  But for starters I’d like to thank everyone who follows me & relishes in my mental spew. You inspire me and I couldn’t have gotten this far without you!

I first put a pen to paper when I was only a couple of years old. I would draw, make my letters, and allow my imagination to take me where children ought to go. Soon I would be making up stories for my mother to record, and by age seven, I had written my first poem. I always loved reading, word games, and anything to do with literature. By the 4th grade I had joined the Young Authors club at my elementary school, and in high school my favorite class was Creative Writing, which I also took in college, in between various composition, poetry, and lit courses. I originally majored in English when I started at the community college, but that path was soon re-routed. I had to drop out of my second semester of college due to a stay at a psychiatric hospital for my bipolar disorder. At this time I had just recently been diagnosed, and hadn’t had any serious episodes – until what seemed like a manic crash, resulting in suicidal behavior. Leading up to this point, I was an avid poet, writing about my feelings and trying to make sense of the chaos in my head. Many of my poems and essays were dark and seemingly psychotic. Once I was in the hospital, I was pleased to be able to keep my journal by my side, for I had a whole new arena to explore and creatively make sense of. The following months proved to be challenging, for I was hospitalized a couple of more times, and was really struggling with getting a solid hold on the whole bipolar thing. My writing was my release, and helped to clear my mind. About a year after I was released, I returned to college. This time I came back as a Psychology major. I was taking the whole mental health thing to a new level, having experience on the ‘patient’ side, I wanted to be on the ‘professional’ side as well. My passion is still the written word. I just apply it in personal ways.

Now that you know a little about my background in writing, what you need to know is that I tend to this blog to help me grow as a person. This blog allows me to channel my bipolar disorder into a cozy place equipped with avenues of understanding and an army of like-minds. I hope that what I write can be interpreted by whoever cares enough to take a gander, and that maybe something will ring a tiny bell and resonate with that reader. I enjoy sharing my personal sagas in a safe environment, and I’m not ashamed to say that it is therapeutic at the same time. On occasion, educational blog posts are important because there is no such thing as too much advocacy. And of course I take advantage of the opportunity to share my poetry as well. I hope to continue to improve upon this blog, and let it be a sanctuary for even more readers.

Thanks for stopping by and CHEERS to another great year!

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Suicidal Ideation is A Manageable Symptom

Some of us experience it, some of us don’t. It takes over your mind and consumes you. Suicidal ideation doesn’t necessarily mean you will kill yourself. Or that you really want to. It means you are preoccupied with the thought. These thoughts drag you to a very dark place, focusing on, or even obsessing over the notion to end your own life. People with these ideations often lack the desire to fully commit suicide. In fact, many people in this position would rather not discuss it. Ideations include methods, plans, notes, the aftermath, etc. Is this morbid? Does this make someone a sick person? No. Suicidal ideation is a symptom of bipolar disorder. I am one of those people who are affected by this symptom. For me, it flares up at certain times, and goes away at other times. While some may take great comfort in their dark thoughts, it makes me more negative and depressed. I do a lot of work on myself if I start getting like that, and I practice therapeutic techniques to clear my mind.

What triggers my suicidal ideation? A key trigger is whenever someone I know dies intentionally, a.k.a. suicide, or from a preventable cause, such as an overdose. It triggers me even further when the deceased is around my age. I begin to take mental notes, as if I’m learning a lesson from these people who passed before me. What did he overdose on? How did he do it? Why her? Why not me? Now these thoughts manifest into full on imaginative scenarios, thus romanticizing the notion of death altogether. I find myself sitting at funerals, in complete awe of the entire procession. I philosophize every aspect of it. From the excessive sobber, to the take-charge family member, to the hugger, to those apprehensive to see the casket, to the hospitable funeral director, and all the awkward others who seem to follow suit along with everybody else.

Where am I going with any of this? Well I attended a funeral yesterday for a young family member of my wife, who indeed took his own life. By young, I mean a day younger than me. An unthinkable tragedy, the pain he was going through must have been indescribable. I watched as family members mourned, their hearts broken, questions unanswered. And of course while I was beyond saddened for my wife and my dear in-laws, I started to feel the sprouting little buds in my mind. I pushed it away, and have been doing my damnedest to prevent anything from growing. It’s important to know your triggers, and catch them early in development. Using positive self talk can help as well.

The focus is to celebrate life. We celebrate those who have passed before us, those who are here with us, and those who will be joining us soon. (Our baby is due next month! Yay!) I know this is a hard topic to chew, but I really felt it was important because surely there are others with this symptom as well.

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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.

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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.

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Reminiscing One Year Mania-Free

What’s in a year? How about a significant time dedicated to replenishing? Recovery? Rebirth? I bring this up because I look back to this time last year when I was, well, manic. I remember the chaos in my head, the insane amount of energy, the obsessing over music, the delusional ideas, and the fights with my wife. I reflect on the irritability and agitation. Conversely, I reminisce on the indescribable feeling of being alive. That’s the part that really gets me. When I begin to reminisce on my mania (a.k.a. Piper- my alter ego). It’s easy to forget how taxing it can be on the body, or about the crying spells that come out of nowhere, or, in my mixed state, experience intense dark and suicidal thoughts. Instead I get a warm, nostalgic sensation and I begin to miss it a little. My mania draws out my alter ego, Piper, and allows a bonding experience. I felt songs differently, smelled the air differently, and sensed things in a different way. It’s so easy to forget the bad when it comes to thinking of the manic episodes. I admit I’m a little sad this year without my mania and a little part of me will always miss those chaotic days. But I am much healthier and happier now, so of course I wouldn’t trade my state of being today for my manic-mixed state of last October.

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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.
 
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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…

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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.

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Purge – a really intense poem

I check my pulse to see if I’m still living
In the spillway to the remnants of my thoughts.
I just might daydream about a daydream,
And harness a fantasy about the ones who came before
The ones who came before the ones who didn’t care.
 
I search my heart to see if I’m still yearning
For the roadway to the seedlings of my life.
I just might embrace feeling this feeling,
And open my soul to quench the thirstiest thirst
Of the thirsty firsts for the needs to which I bear.
 
I clean my mouth to see if I’m still tainted
In the airway to the speeches of my intention.
I just might mix poison with poison,
And demand an understanding as I visualize
The lies of the lies that I cried in despair.
 
I wrack my mind to discover the key
To a pathway of authentic ramification.
I just might abscond the chains of sanity,
And infect my cerebral gears that speared the fears
Of indifferent years I grew from what was spared.
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Maybe Not Today

I’ve been pretty stable lately and I feel alright. My head has been mostly clear, well, clear enough to get through my day undisturbed. And I haven’t felt overall depressed, angry, or manic. Now, that is my usual. I’m not saying I don’t have days where I feel my moods alter into a wayward routine of up and down. Because I do have my less than perfect days. I know I flirt with hypomania, I know I experience crying spells, I also react to my boredom with abstract ideas. But I know it will be fine, even if fine doesn’t mean today.

Maybe Not Today

 

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?