Meds

Meds.  Medicine.  Pills.

Necessary?  Likely.   Enjoyable experience taking them?  Not even close.  I’m torn with how I feel about my meds.  Unfortunately though I am in a place now where I am totally without my meds.

Part of the joys of the American medical and insurance systems is a prescription plan.  Mine calls my meds maintenance medications and says that I have to go through a 90 day supply or pay the full price.   After my last appointment with the psychiatrist I did my diligence and got set up, or so I thought.   Long story short – the fine folks in charge of my prescription plan shipped the meds to the wrong address and their processing is so slow, it will end up being two weeks off meds before I get back on.

So – two weeks without pills.  The meds that I hate and the meds that I have to have are the same pills.  What do I do?  How do I survive?  Do I NEED them to survive?

Its been interesting following the paths in my mind as the medicine has worn off and left my body.  I’ve felt the emotions closer to the surface, I’ve seen myself be closer to tears, and I’ve been acutely aware of the changes as they happen.  It’s almost as if I can feel the changes happening in my brain as they move to and fro.

It’s weird to feel some of the same feelings that I felt back in February, March and April.  It’s a source of happiness though to feel at least a little more in control.  The coping skills that I’ve learned have helped me from falling as far as before, and I’m glad to have them.

Just the same, this is tough.

Meds.  Medicine.  Pills.

Am I a pioneer?

When you hear the word pioneer, what images come to mind?

It brings to mind for me images of wagons pulled by oxen, of people pulling handcarts across the plains.  I think of people rushing across the plains for the chance of finding gold.   I think of people who didn’t speak the native language coming here in boats from Europe and beyond.  I think of people who made that first scary move into the unknown on the chance that it would be better for them and their world.

Some modern pioneers come to mind as well.  John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong among many.  Those men touched the face of God and gave a nation something to believe in.

I also think of pioneers like Dr. Kay Jameson, who I have written about befor.  She experiences the daily battles of manic depression, while being a credentialed psychiatrist and knowing EXACTLY what is happening in her brain.  But guess what – she’s lived well.  I think of Dr John Huber who is dedicating his career to ending the stigma associated with all mental illnesses.

So that brings me to the point of today’s blog.  Am I a pioneer?  Am I taking a first step into the unknown?  It’s overwhelming to think of myself in the same breath as any pioneer.  My therapist and I had a good conversation about it last week and she says that my efforts to fight this are pioneer like.  I’m engaged in this fight and I’m determined not to stop.  It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever even thought to try and do, but it’s worth every step.

When I realize that there’s a 50% chance of bpd being passed down to my kids I’m encouraged to fight harder.   To paraphrase someone much wiser than I  – I study bipolar disorder and mental illness so that my children and my children’s children may study math and science and literature and life and love in spite of what may come.

I’m not sure if my children will have to deal with this, or if I’m “pioneering” directly for them.  But I will gladly continue that first step into the darkness, with the hope that it will continue to lead to good and better things for me in my world.

Time flies.

Whether or not you’re having fun, so there’s wisdom in enjoying it.  There’s a lot of excuses to not have written for eight days – I’m busy, I’m transitioning to a new job, I’m blah blah blah-ing.  Long story short, it’s been a long seven and a half days – I miss writing here.  Self expression is without a doubt high on my list of self care.  I’d like to think that it ties in to me writing my own story with this whole experience.

I’ve read several books at this point about manic depression, and they all seem to carry common threads:  years of misdiagnosis, or years of undiagnosed living; frustrations at an inability to express all the feelings and emotions we know come with bpd; and a burning hatred of medicine, along with the side effects it brings.  I’m right there with all of that.

Where I feel like I diverge from that narrative a little bit at least is my desire to share and advocate for mental health awareness.  I’m only six months into this adventure, but I struggle with not shouting from the rooftops that I have suffer from Manic Depressive and that I am fighting this thing.  Punch for punch, I’m right there with it, and not going down easy.  I’m street fighting this thing like it’s Mortal Kombat from the 90’s.

It’s my opinion that we all need to widen the net and share the load that mental health brings.  Whether it’s through forums like this (I appreciate any and all of you who read this and especially those who have been reading since February), or going to a therapist, or support group, or Facebook pages, or whatever the hell works for you, do it.  The reason that I work so hard – the last eight days notwithstanding – on writing here.  I’m humbled that anyone follows my blog, and I hope that those of you who read regularly get something good and helpful from each entry.

Like I said at the top – time flies.  We are all (those with mental health challenges or not) obligated to do our very best to make the most of our time on this earth.  For me, my time on earth finally makes sense.  When the psychiatrist looked at me on February 17 2017 and said, “Well Will, you’ve got Bipolar 1,” that clarified what would be the rest of my life.  I finally knew why.  The clarity has caused a lot of things to become better in my life.

I am a believer in things happening exactly how they should – it’s just in my nature, and it’s been part of who I am as a result of my faith as well.  My diagnosis happened at 31, and not 21 for a reason.  My appetite for sharing and advocacy is much stronger now.

I am writing my own story as someone fighting manic depressive illness.  I will win.

Still up.

Still up.

And pacing.

And laying in bed staring into the darkness, and hoping to fall asleep and wondering what every little noise is and wondering when I’ll fall asleep and thinking about my triumph from today and wondering when I’ll fall asleep and imagining how today will change my family’s life and imagining being asleep and feeling myself float above the clouds again and trying too hard to fall asleep.  Damnit.

I am tired.

I am still up.

WOW.

That’s about all I’ve got, and all I can even think about saying right now.

There’s been such a roller coaster of emotion and change and just wow over the last five days I can hardly stand it.  Just Wow.  It’s not even a bad wow, it’s one of those situations where you really get to sit back and say, “Wow, is this real?  Can this really be happening this way?”

This wow is also why I am feeling super manic today.  I am unbeatable.  I am inflated so much that I could literally float away.  I am on fire, indestructible, unstoppable, unflappable, and the best thing to happen in my world since my world began.  In my heart I feel like I can feel the neurons firing and misfiring and exploding in my head.  So … with that being said – that’s why I’m here today, writing right freaking now, so that I can start to reign in the mania.  My goodness it needs to be chained down because … well, because we know what happens when mania isn’t stopped on it’s upward swing.  I’m not going to let that happen, so here we are.  Am I hypomanic right now?

I saw something a display today, that really affected me.  About a week ago, a police officer in the city where I live was killed in the line of duty and today was his funeral.  I happened to be heading north on the highway when his funeral procession was headed south.  It was such a stark but touching scene to see actual miles and miles of police vehicles moving slowly with precision and respect.  Everywhere I saw there were cars pulled over and (I’d imagine they were likely) veterans, or current active duty members of the military out saluting the procession as it went by.  It was as moment to remind you that America has a lot of joy in it’s core, and that we are surrounded on a daily basis by people who are willing to serve and sacrifice.  I am glad that I got to see such a great display of respect live.

It also reminded me that I am blessed to be able to do what I do professionally, but also personally.  Sometimes I sell myself short and think that I haven’t done anything measurable for society when I compare myself to military members or first responders, but I only felt grateful for them today.

Wow.

Such power is packed in a little three letter word.

I’m glad to know that I’m being guided through some great times in my life right now.

Change 

I guess change is part of living a bipolar life.  The two words are intrinsically connected, aren’t they?  Again, while I don’t like the term bipolar, and prefer the term Manic Depressive, we will use bipolar today.  

There was an article this morning on USA Today that talked about the most misunderstood mental illnesses out there, and it listed mine as one of them.  It says that “Often confused with depression or schizophrenia, bipolar disorder is characterized by stark shifts in mood and energy.”  In other words, change abounds.   

The author continues: “Those with the condition often experience periods of prolonged and profound depression that alternates with periods of excessively elevated or irritable mood.”  In other, other words, more change.  

So with change established as a theme that exists living the bipolar, or manic depressive, life let’s dive into current events here in my life today.   There’s a major major change coming down the pipeline – talking beginning of a new era of life type stuff.   It’s a positive change, but it’s a big change nonetheless.   I think those changes are the ones that can have the biggest influence, for good or ill, on how things are going in life you know?  

Change ties back in to the last post that I wrote.  Change is constant in life – sometimes, like this one, we choose it.   But when it comes to how to deal with it, I feel strongly like the tools are the same, and it’s up to me to use them.  Or not.   

Checks and balances

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Checks and balances are an essential part of daily life in the world.  Our form of government (here in the US) is set around it.  Life checks itself by nature.  In Jurassic Park, the great quote of “Life finds a way,” refers to checks and balances.  I am also part of that equation now, as a sufferer of this disease.  I’ve got to be sure that there are daily checks and balances for me to get through each day.

For each moment that I feel down, there’s a check to bring it up.  For every moment that I’m too “up,” there’s a balance to bring it down.  Those checks and balances are lots of things in my life, from the meds, to the coping skills, to regular visits to the therapist, to regular visits with the psychiatrist, to keeping an element of spirituality in my life, to staying close to my family.  I am glad to have each one of these tools and I’m glad for the difference they make.  Sometimes they are the sword that you see the Lady of Justice above wielding.  Other times they are a shield that protects.  But they’re all always there.

The key, and the most important part of it all is the simplest:  I’ve got to take the tools off the shelf and use them.  Some days it’s really hard … so damn hard.  Why is that?  I don’t really fully understand why – but some days it kills me to care enough to fight back.

There are also skills and things that I’ve learned that help me understand the when and how of decision making.  I’m looking down the nose of a huge decision right now, and I can tell that there has been growth because six months ago I totally would have just done it.  Now I’ve taken a week to study it out, and now I’m trying to find the final answer.  I’m checking and balancing the mania that comes from being pursued professionally … six months ago, or a year ago … I would have taken the job immediately you know?

Little by little, I almost, most days, feel like I’m getting better.

 

Baseball is life.


There are few sites and sounds as beautiful to my mind as the ones found inside a baseball stadium.   My dad, who we’ve discussed here before, did me the life service of teaching me everything there is to know about baseball during my 19 years before I left home.  I am glad that he did.  Many people will talk about baseball as a past-it’s-prime game, or a sport moving into decline, but they couldn’t be more wrong.   

Baseball is a great game with many applications for, and lessons that can be learned and applied to life.  That’s part of what makes it great.  

Today, and with the visual aid of one of the most beautiful park in America, let’s apply baseball to my bipolar life.  

Everyone of the bases has a purpose and a reason, and is part of the story.  

Home plate:  this is where I spent the longest amount of time.   My psychiatrist told me that bipolar is something that I was born with, and that from birth it was like a time bomb in my brain waiting to blow up.   So for me, although I am sure I had manic episodes and depressive episodes growing up – a suicide attempt, a wonderful whirlwind courtship and proposal with my wife, and much more – I don’t think that I left home plate until January of this year after the suicide attempt and the come down from that.  That launched me to first base, and to diagnosis and meds, with an aggressive path.  Here we go.  

First base:  Diagnosis and it’s tailspin.  How many of you feel or felt like diagnosis was a black hole opening up in your life?  For me it was an absolute catastrophe, and one that nearly drove me to the brink of suicide again (a suicide attempt in January is what had taken me to seek psychiatric care in the first place).  Why me?   Why this?  I was mad at God.  I was mad for all those reasons that one would be – it was a life changer and one that I didn’t realize yet was not going to be a death sentence.  I thought my life was over.   It nearly was when the meds came and did their worst to me.  For six weeks I tried to deal with the meds and their wonderful (read that highly in a highly sarcastic tone) side effects until I couldn’t anymore.   I felt as close to ending my life as I was to feeling like the meds were helping me get my life back.  That’s when I checked into a facility for the first (and hopefully only) time and moved on to second base.   

Second base: Treatment.   Being inside that facility for those five days in April was the starkest yet most helpful thing I’ve done in my entire life.   I was alarmed and scared because I simply couldn’t believe where I was – it was a suicide watch lockdown unit.  I literally couldn’t do anything without asking someone’s permission.   Every door was locked in front of and behind me.  Removing the dystopian aspect from it though – it was a clean safe sterile environment where I was able to struggle through the medicine regulating in my mind and body.   It was a place where I could take the time to focus on me and getting my mind and and soul right again.   Guess what – it worked.  I’ve been out of the facility for nearly three months, and the coping tools and skills that I learned are what keep me afloat now.   It’s a good thing to have them because I believe I would have continued to sink if I hadn’t gone into the treatment facility when and how I did.  Coming out of the facility that day in April was wonderful though.   It was like rounding second base and heading straight for …

Third base:  continued recovery and relapse prevention.   This 90 feet between these two bases, this short stop, this is where I’ll spend the most time because it’ll be the rest of my life.  I’ve been told that there will be other episodes of severe degrees.  I’ve been told that there will be times when the suicidal thoughts come back strong.   That’s where they’ll be though, squarely between second and third.  There will be times when I think I cant do it anymore, and the act of getting up and dusting off – that will be what keeps me going towards third base.   The cooing skills from treatment, the sticking to my meds, and the continued engagement from my support team – that’s what will be utilized here like no other.   I am confident that I’ve got the tools ready to fight any battle though.   

Back to home:  and this is the final stop.   Once I cross home plate and get back to where I started – in that moment is when I’ve reached Heavenly glory and am in Gods presence.  In that moment is when my mind will finally be let free of this affliction, and I’ll be able to thank Him for the trial and the extra depth and field of vision that it gave to my life. 

I’m happy when I think about that day.  I know I’m not there yet because I can’t see myself thanking anyone let alone God, for all of this.   But there’s the end game.   It’s all about progress.  Baseball games are won and lost on the base paths and so too, I will win with my bipolar one section at a time.   

My mind is racing tonight.

mcqueen                                                  download

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Like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, or the Great Escape.

Like Lightning McQueen in Cars 1, 2, or 3.

Or like Seabiscuit running circles around the competition in Seabiscuit.  

I am on fire and flying fast tonight … and I don’t hate it.  It’s been a damn good day for me personally and for me in all aspects of my life and it just has my mind racing.  I haven’t felt this way in a while – being so charged up like this, and feeling like my mind is moving so fast that things around me are almost slowing down.  I am staying indoors and close to my wife though – that’s how I know I’ll be ok no matter how fast I may feel that I’m going tonight.

Here’s the difference tonight in how I feel, versus how I felt back in March and April:  I feel happy.  While I recognize that it’s mania – I feel happy, and carefree, it’s happy.  There’s no sign of self harm, no sign of darkness, or any of the other old clouds from back then.  I am still on meds – haven’t come off of them yet – and still seeing my therapist twice a month.   I’m here blogging, filling up all those Blank screens.  I have been logging more time on my knees recently than in a long time and He is meeting me more than halfway.  I can’t imagine trying to get through this in any way other than the one that involves the power of God working for me.  There are few things in life more important to me than having a solid relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Tonight I feel like Usain Bolt is running laps in my brain, but at least he’s smiling 🙂

 

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