Pills to Poetry: The Burden of Non-Compliance

The conversation between my wife and I when I don’t want to comply with medication or sleep. A bipolar dilemma. A caregiver’s burden.

Pills heart

~The Burden That No One Sees ~

“It’s late.” She’s barely awake, squinting.
“I’m not tired”, I tell her, and continue working.
“That’s the point”, she says under her breath.
“What’s the point?” I’m lost.
“With your condition…” she’s exhausted. I’m making it worse.
“Seriously I’m fine.” I insist.
“Take your meds.” She isn’t giving up.
“I’m not tired”, I say.
“You have a big day tomorrow.” She’s more patient than I deserve.
“I know. But I’m wide awake.” I continue working.
“That’s the problem.” Her face is pretty, even half asleep.
“What’s the problem?” I’m lost still.
“You’re getting manic.” Her tone is serious.
“Not manic. I’m just really busy. It’s a project…”
“It’s 2am”, she informs me.
“Okay. In thirty minutes I will.”
“No. Take them now.”
“Fuck. Okay. Fine.”
The bedroom door closes behind her as I pour a handful of perfect little pharmasanity shapes from the burnt orange, child-proof bottle. I choke them down with a large swig of beer. She hates when I do that but does not complain because at least I’m taking the goddamned medication.

pills heartt

After a week or so of these types of conversations, she usually ends up putting me on a bedtime schedule with a tight ritual involving complying with meds. Because I love my wife and trust her, I often go with it. Well, okay, I put up a fight half the time, which occasionally puts her in the position to give me ultimatums. This is love. This is bipolar disorder. This is a bipolar marriage. And I still fucking hate taking pills.

Music Therapy – Tegan and Sara, “Not With You”

This song brings on strong emotions for me for some reason. Maybe you’ll get something out of it too.

“Not With You” – Tegan and Sara

I can’t believe I’ve let you in
And now here I am
Telling you that I’m suffocating in here
Just like the drugs you are keeping me
I felt shark teeth underneath my socks
Before I lost much blood

Around this world will I be enough?

From the liquor stores
To the train stop floors
Your filthy room your drama blues
I am nothing if I’m not with you
I’m always right always wrong
Dressing bad is like loving you
There is nothing I haven’t worn
Nothing I haven’t said before

Your fluid is thick against my sheets
When you look at me
Oh so angry I know it’s true
My strength has come from loving you
Behavior I just can’t grow into
So you fake and you flaw
For your cops and your cause
It makes no difference to me
It’s love that you stole, that you stole

From the liquor stores
To the train stop floors
Your filthy room your drama blues
I am nothing if I’m not with you
I’m always right always wrong
Dressing bad is like loving you
There is nothing I haven’t worn
Nothing I haven’t said before so here I am

Around this world will I be enough?

This is nothing I haven’t said before
You are nothing I haven’t felt before

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.

 

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?

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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Say it Forward Campaign to End Stigma

Stigma. We all have experienced it at one time or another. Maybe directly, maybe vicariously, maybe we’ve simply been affected by the very notion of it. We’ve been made to feel embarrassed and ashamed about having a mental illness. We’ve been hesitant to seek help. We have certainly attempted to hide our mental illness from people we know. We tend to blame ourselves and feel out of place. It’s time we join together and do something about stigma. Here is someone who has:

When it comes to mental health conditions, silence is not golden. Silence breeds stigma, and stigma hurts: it prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. That’s why the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) have joined forces to promote Say It Forward 2013, an email and social media anti-stigma campaign that educates people about the reality of mental health conditions.

The Say it Forward Campaign is a fantastic quest to reach out to others to educate them on the facts of mental illness. The campaign sight offers three ways to contact people you know either through email, Twitter, or Facebook, and then provides this list of myths and facts:

Myth: I don’t know anyone who has a mental health condition.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 4 people, or 25% of individuals, develops one or more mental health disorders at some stage in life. They are your family, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors.

Myth: Mental health conditions are not real medical illnesses.
Fact: Like heart disease and diabetes, mental health disorders are real, treatable conditions.

Myth: Bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions are not life-threatening.
Fact: Among individuals with bipolar disorder, 25–50% attempt suicide at least once, and suicide is a leading cause of death in this group. This serious condition can be treated, and treatment saves lives.

Myth: People with a severe mental illness are dangerous and violent.
Fact: Statistics show that those who live with from mental health conditions are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator. They are nearly five times more likely to be a victim of murder, and people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychosis are 2.5 times more likely to be attacked, raped, or mugged than the general population.

Myth: People with a mental health conditions aren’t capable of maintaining relationships or pursuing the career of their choice.
Fact: Individuals with mental health conditions can and do lead full, happy, productive lives—as mothers, friends, and spouses; as teachers, doctors, and lawyers.

It is important to have these conversations with loved ones and friends. Using the myths and facts is a wonderful tool in breaking the ice on the topic of mental illness. The campaign encourages each one of us to become involved and help put an end to stigma once and for all.

To learn more about the Say it Forward Campaign, check out their website: http://www.sayitforwardcampaign.org/

Sources: http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/  and  http://www.dbsalliance.org/

Say it fwd

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

 

Well Hello There, Anxiety!

I welcomed this day wearing a smothering jacket of anxiety, accessorized with a shiny ball of nerves. It’s like I suddenly have so much on my mind that I am experiencing physiological reactions that include chest tightness and shallow breathing, on top of my severe distractability and a racing mind. A few days ago I mentioned that my wife and I are going on a road trip later this week. Despite my list of travel tips, (https://nectarmadness.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/travel-tips-for-bipolar-disorder/) I still feel unprepared. And I don’t think it’s so much that I’m unprepared for the trip itself- I mean I refilled my Lithium, I did a load of laundry, and I have directions. But it’s more an overwhelming feeling of tying up loose ends before we leave. My list of unimportant things that are sickening me with importance. Yeah those. For instance I recently got a brand new camera. (Little known fact: photography was one of my biggest hobbies, prior to a depression-induced hiatus that lasted for 10 years.) Now, I’ve been thrilled about releasing the ol’ shutterbug and cranking out something to put me back on the map. The thing is, I have no idea how to turn the fucking thing on! Sure there’s a DVD, there’s a booklet and online support. I get it. I haven’t had time to even charge up the battery until last night. I don’t have five minutes to dedicate to learning how this thing works and I am expected to bring it with me on the trip where I will be greeted by my family full of photographers. My first shoot back is going to be in the scenic oasis of beautiful, lush Kentucky. It’s stressing me the fuck out.

While I might sound crazy, we have to remember that I’m already getting triggered by the mere fact I’m going on a trip. Add in the overwhelming surplus of people who are also going on the trip. These people are family members who we don’t see very often, which is as unnerving as it is exciting. I’m also a little anxious about announcing our pregnancy to the cousins we don’t see but every handful of years. While I try to not let things like stereotyping and closed-mindedness enter my aura, I do have some family members who swing a little more conservatively, so I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect me a little.

While I’m on my anxiety tangent (I’d be shocked if anyone actually reads this entry!), I’m also coming off a recent high that I experienced over the weekend. And that is a surprise birthday party thrown for me by my amazing friends. My birthday is on the 7th and since I won’t be home, they threw it for me this past Sunday. I’m not one to really like surprises, but I managed to keep it together absolutely fine. I guess the biggest aftermath of the party I’m busy contemplating is the fact so many people showed up! I really would’ve never thought so many people really like me! I’m as gracious as I am overwhelmed. I do think my behavior got a little out of control later that night, and I am feeling anxious, today, about the level of intoxication I managed to get to. I feel guilty and uncomfortable about that part. Impulse control isn’t my strongest trait. Anyway, I’ll move past it. The party was such a wonderful surprise that I’m still glowing from it!

Now, with so much buzzing around inside my head, what I need to do is continue to work on my to-do list, pack up all that I’m bringing, and straight up get my shit together already! I’m convinced once we’re on the road I will calm down by at least 8 notches. If I ever get there.

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Today

Today
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.

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Parade of Pills

Just a little ‘ol poem flirting with lunacy and pharmaceuticals…

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PARADE OF PILLS
The drama mask,
Tie it tight.
Toxic prisms
In the light.
Choose your mind
Blue, pink, white.
Wash it down,
Pose no fight.
Happy, shiny
Crystal height.
My jester hat
Falls off at night.
Behold my thoughts,
And take a bite.
Smelling voices,
Tasting sight.
Dance on arrows.
Choke me right.
Bells are screaming
Crash down kite.
Veins are ticklish,
Flesh so bright.
Parade of pills.
Test that flight.

Invincible and Triggered

And now I say hello to holiday anxiety. It’s true- I declared myself invincible this year and thought I wouldn’t experience any mood triggers or stress. I must really entertain myself because apparently my brain had other ideas. It started four days ago. A simple disagreement with my wife triggered flying high irritability as well as crying spells and road rage. My cycling has been pretty active this whole week. It was slightly unexpected since I have been functioning fine on my newest combo of meds. Now take my agitation and mix it with my extreme boredom…enter the busy mind. The busy mind has been known to be a pre-cursor to my mania. Okay before we go any further, let me explain my work situation. I work in an empty office all day long. I work by myself in that empty office all day long. I’m pretty much left to my own devices and due to the seasonal nature of this particular industry, I have nothing constructive to do. Ok now take that information and imagine that I’ve been driving myself crazy, all day long, these last few days. Finally on Wednesday night I attended my support group and talked about these triggers occurring. I could tell what everyone was thinking as I described my irritability and aggressive feelings, and as I explained my agitation and crying spells, a few people expressed their concern with manic triggers. While I didn’t go into full-blown mania or anything that night, I began feeling a new trigger yesterday. This time it was directly regarding Christmas and not being as fit, financially, as we have been in previous years. The holiday hustle-bustle has never been something I’m good at. Now, I don’t mind things happening fast but when life as we know it becomes about shopping, and the retail journey is more pandemonium than peace, I (as well as many other Bipolars) start to ride the wave of the environmental stimuli. The busy affect of the holidays manifests the busy affect of my brain.

So what do I do about the triggers and cycling?

Well, it has been difficult, I must admit. However, I practice deep breathing exercises religiously. Slooowly inhale, hold for a second, then slooowly exhale. I do this about 5 times. Deep breathing is one of my favorite instantaneous diffusers. The only problem is if I don’t immediately think to go into breathing mode, but I’m noticing this gets easier with practice. Yoga is another excellent tool I use to calm down. A simple sun sequence provides fluid transitions between poses that provide physical stretching and balance, as well as a meditative quality that allows you to expand your mind, easing it to calmness and clarity. These things don’t necessarily take away the mood swings or the irritability, but any amount of relief makes a world of difference, even if it is temporary.

So, overall, I’m a little bit of a hot mess right now. But I’ll be okay. I’m taking my medication and looking for ways to relieve my boredom. Next thing is to just keep on truckin’ it through the holiday season, while reminding myself I don’t have to be invincible.