Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Oh It’s You, Seroquel. 

I said I’d keep everyone posted on my recent decision to come off of Seroquel. (As you recall, I was dealing with weight gain side effects.)

Well I’ve been completely off for 2 weeks (after weaning down for 2 weeks) and it’s been a struggle. My moods are all over the place, I’m certainly not sleeping, and it’s put a strain on my family. My wife has endured additional stress and we have been fighting more. I feel badly about it, and of course I also wish she could be more supportive of my decision. But when it comes down to it, our long-time agreement has been in order for this marriage to work, I must stay on meds. 

When it comes down to it, I am excited about losing 5lbs. The scale hasn’t budged in so long, and this gave me hope. But I’ve weighed out my situation (no pun intended..) and have decided to go back on the Seroquel. I gave it a try, but I can’t help that my illness requires certain medications. I admit I feel defeated. But I also know this is just me being responsible. 

Thanks for listening to my saga. I know many of you have experienced Seroquel side effects and I thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Best of wellness to all of you. 

  

Kindly Disregard my Absence, for my Brain Has Been All-Consuming

Hey hey everyone. I didn’t mean to ignore you recently. I’ve been riding the train of instability. a.k.a. mood swings, hallucinations, irritability, and  suicidal thoughts. My mind is currently numb and I’m a little lightheaded, but allow me to get you up to speed.

64743d1eacbd79e683a776b1ee3c34f6Suicide Stuff Again…

I know I talk about my suicidal ideation pretty often, so I apologize that I’m bringing it up again. I’ll make it brief, I promise. The last couple of months, my mind has been stepping into the dark territory again. It automatically starts developing plans and twisted theories. ( Example: “If I do it while my son is still a baby, I won’t give him an abandonment complex.”) I would try to get these things to stop entering my brain, but like clockwork, every morning, I obsessed about death. This has been constant for at least two months. It usually fades into the afternoon, so I would just try really hard to not allow it back in. I spoke of it only a little bit with my wife because I know she hates when I talk about it. She thinks I’m morbid (duh!) and it brings her down. Not my goal at all. She did make me agree to a no-harm pact before she and my son went out of town for the weekend, leaving me at home. I agreed to it. It gave her peace of mind.

WTF is THAT?!?!

Never in my life have I had visual hallucinations. I mean naturally. I’ve battled auditory hallucinations for years. Usually I hear voices speaking to me, or chatter, or music playing. About three weeks ago I saw a spider. Then I saw another spider the next day. The day after that I saw a spider on the wall. Okay, no bid deal, right? I live in the Midwest and spiders are part of the woodwork. Except these spiders didn’t start off as spiders. An imperfection on the wall. A leaf. A piece of lint I spot from the corner of my eye. They all grew legs and started moving around. They were in my kitchen, my car, my bedroom, bathroom, even at the office. I did tell my wife about the spiders and she looked panicked, but remained calm and urged me to talk to my pdoc.

The Appointment…

I’m not crazy about my psychiatrist. I mean, he’s alright, but I don’t love him. I’ve been seeing him for over eight years now and we have a customized payment plan, which I appreciate. He is very educated and has many, many fancy plaques on his wall. He dresses in funky plaid suits and hates the government. And he makes me feel like he thinks I’m crazy. No joke, I tell him about the spiders and his eyes widen, almost in disbelief. Really? Like isn’t he the ONE person obligated to not make me feel crazy? Anyway, I suggested increasing my Seroquel. He decided to put me back on Abilify. I just got him to take me off of it a few months ago, and now I’m back on it.

Drugs Drugs Drugs!

It’s been five days and the side effects are certainly present. I don’t feel better yet. But I am hopeful. My next appointment with Dr. Plaid is in a couple of weeks, and I am to call him next week for an update. Until then, my upper body is tingling, my arms are tingling and restless, I feel lightheaded, and my body temperature is fluctuating. So far I’m not experiencing akathisia or twitches, like I did when starting Abilify last time. This is also a pretty low dose, so we’ll see.

 

Okay, thank you all for listening. I hope you all are well!  (I’m sorry this isn’t a better written post.)

 

 

Swinging Crashing

So yeah. I guess I crashed. I’m not doing so well right now. My moods are swinging, bringing me to a miserable depression these last two days. I really don’t even want to write this, but I’m forcing myself to.

Apparently this is part of my pattern. Every Spring/early Summer I am riding high. Hypomanic on meds and full on manic off meds. This year I traveled a lot. First was Chicago, then Toronto, then up north to a vacation town here in Michigan. I also attended a number of concerts. I was exploding with energy and feeling very social. It was summertime, after all.

Then after all the fun in the sun, the clinks of the bottles, the screaming in the crowd, I enter into a lifeless, self-loathing little pile of misery. It sucks and I hate it.

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My mind scrambles tonight to come up with excuses to get out of going to the beach with my family and friends tomorrow. I’m in a pathetic stage at the moment where I ridicule myself and compare myself to others. I literally have a reason to feel insecure with each and every person going to this outing tomorrow. I am feeling self-conscious and humiliated. I expressed this (well, a mild version of this) to my wife and I could tell by her reaction, while expressing compassion, she was disappointed in me. So I shut up about it. I really want to be excited to spend the day with my wife and my son. I will probably just muscle through it. There is no drinking at this gathering, so I can’t even numb my issues away.

I need to exercise more. I need to lose weight and boost my serotonin levels. It’s hard to get motivated when nothing sounds good. I know it sounds like I’m just whining. But mood swings and depression are real. Out of nowhere it can just jump up and bite you in the ass. I hope this passes quickly. I also hope this has nothing to do with coming of of Abilify. Because it is a noticeable pattern, I don’t think it does.

All in all, I have had some fleeting dark thoughts of ending it all, but I distracted myself and found more useful things to focus on. I guess it’ll be a day by day process. Thanks for reading.

 

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.

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.

Changes, Changes, Moods, & Changes

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.

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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.

 

Sometimes I Get So Angry…

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. FRIENDS-FIGHTING

How Does Change Affect You?

I’d like to say that I’m good with change and welcome it with open arms. But that simply isn’t the case. I have mood swings, irritability, feelings of chaos, and I’m often pretty manic. The bigger the change, the less I sleep, the more I obsess over things, the harder I am to deal with. Examples of difficult change for me include moving to a new home, starting a new job- or getting laid off from a job, a family member becoming ill or laid up due to injury, and any time I have too much idle time on my hands. Heck, I can’t even handle the change of seasons very well. In the coming weeks, I am about to embark upon a couple of new changes and I’m getting pretty nervous about it. First, as you know, we are having a baby. My wife is due to give birth December 15th. Of course there’s that uncertainty as to what day the baby is actually coming, and that is making my head go crazy! I want to be as prepared as possible for whenever it happens. But just having a new baby around is so much change in itself. I’m aware that this will affect my bipolar and I’ve had the conversation with my wife about it. Second, I will be laid off from work for the winter months. Last year, I worked through the winter (even though it’s a seasonal business), and had a hard enough time with the lack of work to do, but at least had a routine. Not working will replace my structure with leaving me to fend for myself. Granted, I assume the baby will keep me busy to a point, I just know the changes will be difficult. Lastly, the seasonal change from Fall to Winter is always a tough one.

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It isn’t uncommon for us bipolar folks to struggle with change. There are a few reasons why. First, if we fall out of routine, we tend to get a little lost. Routine is essential for building structure and staying on track with things like meds and moods. Off track means forgetting about tasks and appointments. It’s also easy to get anxious when we feel off. Another reason we dislike change is because it messes up our ability to predict and plan what is going to happen. Of course spontaneity is healthy, but for the most part we feel comfortable if we have knowledge to what is going on. My biggest anxiety is not feeling prepared. I will continue to post about my new life changes and whatever coping strategies I discover.

How are you with change? Do you become anxious when out of your routine? Do you have a hard time getting back on track? What helps you cope?

When Obstacles Mock Your Progress

Responsibilities can be a pain. Especially those that directly pertain to treating my bipolar disorder. When I actually do focus and commit to handling something of importance, I feel like I’m on top of things for once. Then on occasion, just when you think the stars are aligned, and you’re coming out ahead, stupid annoyances create stubborn roadblocks to your personal victory. Where am I going with this? Okay, it started yesterday when I attempted to connect with Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing lab, to inquire about Lithium level testing (I usually go to my doctor’s office, but that is no longer feasible). I wanted a price in case my crappy insurance didn’t cover it. Alright, easy enough. I had already put off testing for a week too long and it is getting close to my next appointment, so I took the initiative (meaning- my wife didn’t have to get on my ass), and I called first thing in the morning. Line was busy. No problem, I’ll call back in a bit. Line still busy. Damn, maybe there is something wrong with their phone. I waited an hour and a half, then called again. Ring ring ring- answering machine. Really? Waited another half hour and called back. This time a woman answered. I explained what I needed. She literally told me that she was busy with a patient and that I needed to call back in 10-15 minutes. Now, having worked customer service for several years, I know professional etiquette would have been to take my info and call me back. But whatever. I was in control of this. At this point, I had been at work, in my office, alone. I knew my boss would be here shortly and since I am not out with my bipolar at work, I was really hoping to resolve this without providing him any of my personal business. For safe measure, I gave the woman 20 minutes before I dialed again. Ring ring ring- line busy. Fucking really? Needless to say, I never connected with the lab. And it made me a little anxious because I tend to put off important phone calls, appointment scheduling, and paperwork deadlines. I was nervous that if I didn’t do it yesterday, I wouldn’t do it at all. Damn roadblocks.

Okay, with a fresh mindset, I came to work this morning, and since I was alone, it was safe to call Quest and take care of business already. Ring ring ring- BUSY! I couldn’t believe it. Again I waited about 20 minutes, and yep- still busy. I was now getting angry, but talked myself into taking the proactive route. I Googled other Quest locations, in the hopes that maybe I was just lucky enough to get the incompetent lab office, and even though it was the most convenient location for me, perhaps someone else be of assistance. I called another office and wouldn’t you believe I let that phone ring until the office answering machine picked up. Unbelievable. At this point I gave up. It takes a great deal of effort for me to remember to stay on top of these things, and when the other party can’t get their own situation figured out, it creates problems for me. The bigger problem is that I’ve been trying to connect with them for two days, and I still need to have my blood work done. In a way, my health is being compromised because a company cannot do their job. The only option that could get me anywhere is if I just go down to the lab tomorrow, in person. I hope I don’t need an appointment, because if I do, I have a feeling I may show them how quickly my moods really can swing!

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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