Managing My Health

Managing My Health

Sometimes I feel like all I do is go to doctor appointments, pick up my prescriptions, and manage my prescription refills. This week, I have two doctor appointments and another appointment for blood work. That’s about how many appointments I have each week. I feel pathetic. Most of my life is spent attempting to manage my health, especially my mental health.

My current meds are: Lithium 450mg twice a day, Tegretol 200mg one in the am and two at night, Cytomel 37.5mcg in the am, Clozapine 200mg at night, Deplin 15mg at night, Mirapex 1mg three times a day, Inositol 500mg in the am, Depo Estradiol injection weekly, Depo Testosterone injection monthly, Valium 10mg twice daily as needed, Percocet 10mg as needed up to four times a day, and Zofran 4mg once daily as needed. It’s difficult to manage this many medications, but I do it pretty well. I’ve gotten used to it; I’ve developed a system so I get all my meds filled on time without missing a day.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist on Thursday to discuss my Clozapine dosage. I’ll probably end up with more than one medication change. I’m hoping to get off the Deplin. It’s really expensive and it doesn’t appear to be making a difference. We’ll see what happens on Thursday.

Physically And Mentally

Physically And Mentally

My body is just as screwed up as my brain. I had my first surgery when I was 16 years old; it was a cardiac ablation. My heart rate would randomly jump from normal up to 200 or more, and I would pass out. A year later, I had a tonsillectomy. In 2009, I had surgery on both of my knees. A year after that, I had a tubal ligation, which I will explain. I had a total hysterectomy in 2014.

The tonsillectomy is pretty much self-explanatory. I chose to have my tubes tied in 2009 when I was living in Connecticut. This was after my total breakdown. My psychiatrist had to write a letter explaining that I knew what I was doing and was making a sound decision. I decided that I have a hard enough time managing my life. I’ve had ups and downs; no matter how hard I try, I can’t always take care of myself. I’ve seen many people struggle with being a parent; it weighed on them so heavily. I didn’t want that to happen to me or my child. I decided it was better for me not to have a child. For me, this was the right decision, but it has been really hard. It’s been extremely difficult for me to not be able to have children. I often cry uncontrollably because of that fact. A year later, I ended up having to have a total hysterectomy because of severe endometriosis.

I pretend to be okay with the fact that I can’t have kids of my own. I’m a 31 year old grandma, who has never been a mother. Of course I wish I could have kids, but if I had to do it all over again, I would still make the same choice. I made the decision because it was the right thing to do for me, not because it was easy.

Right now, the most difficult problem I deal with physically is the interstitial cystitis. I currently get treatments every week; sometimes I can stretch it out to as much as every 3 weeks. The treatment involves getting catheterized so the doctor can put medicine directly into my bladder. This problem has been getting worse over time. I also have chronic bronchitis and pneumonia among other conditions, but luckily that’s not acting up as well.

I know that I’m luckier than many people, but I’m also worse off than a lot of others. Why do I have to have both physical and mental health problems? Why are all my problems chronic? Living with and managing physical pain as well as mental health is exhausting.

Getting Through The Days

Getting Through The Days

I went to the gym with my husband today. We had a great workout. I’m proud of myself for not pushing too hard. I normally push past the pain, and then I end up regretting it later. I’ve had a lot of knee pain over the years. I had a double knee surgery to correct the misalignment of my knees in 2009. I know that I’m going to need another knee surgery at some point, but I don’t want that to be any time soon. So it’s important not to push myself too hard on certain exercises, such as weighted squats and lunges.

After our workout, we went to visit with my father-in-law. We don’t see him often enough. He’s so nice and easy to get along with. We’re going to see him tomorrow too. My husband’s birthday is on Wednesday, he’ll be 42. I told him it’s like turning 21, twice. We’ll see his mom on Wednesday; she wants to through a ‘party’ for him. I’m a bit apprehensive because I don’t know who will be there. I just found out that she invited some aunts, uncles, and cousins. I like everyone; that’s not the problem. It’s just difficult when there are that many people in one house. My husband even said that all he wanted was for me, his mom and her boyfriend, his brother, and his kids to get together; but that’s not what’s happening. Plus, we want to see our granddaughter. The more people who are there, the less time we get to spend with her.

No matter what the circumstances, it will all work out okay. It just means that I will probably end up taking a Valium before I get to the party. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just another thing that adds stress. But I’d rather have too much family than not enough of it. We’re lucky to have loving and caring family on both sides; his family and my family. Having family that cares and supports us is wonderful.

I Did Well… For A While – My Life: Part 5

I Did Well… For A While – My Life: Part 5

After working at the rehab for 9 months, I decided I wanted to move forward with my life. I applied for many jobs in Phoenix. I got a job as a receptionist for a legal compliance and ethics e-learning company. I found an apartment in Phoenix and moved there with a guy I was dating from the rehab, but that relationship didn’t last. I don’t know when our relationship ended, but I think we lived together for about a year. I adopted a dog and named him Cash (after Johnny Cash). He was awfully energetic and liked to chew on everything. I learned how to train him, and he started to behave properly. Cash came with me to AA camping events, which was a blast. At some point, I found a great AA club where I would go to the same meeting every day at 6pm. I don’t like change, so moving was scary. I like to keep a regular schedule. I made a lot of friends at the meeting, but I would only go to that one meeting every day. One of the guys I met was Brandon, who became my best friend. He had the same sarcastic attitude that I have and we got along wonderfully.

I was doing really well at this time in my life. I got a promotion at work, I was able to live on my own, make friends, and maintain my sobriety and my mental health. I took my medication and saw my doctors regularly. I was seeing the psychiatrist that was treating me while I was in rehab. Brandon asked me to workout with him. I told him no for months, and then I ultimately caved and decided to go with him. I was terrified because it was something new, but Brandon made me feel safe. After working out with him once, I was hooked. I loved it. We started working out together 5 days a week. It helped me get through my days at work. I would go to work, then workout with Brandon, and then go to my meeting (often with Brandon). I was happy with this new schedule; it was working well for me.

In the beginning, I wasn’t open about my mental health when it came to my AA meetings. My close friends knew, but that was all. Eventually, I ended up talking about my bipolar disorder in a meeting. I felt as if it wasn’t accepted. Several times, I was told that I didn’t have a mental health problem. It was just an issue to work on through step work. That was a problem for me. I didn’t feel accepted. My mental health was a huge part of my life. Even when I’m doing well, it’s still a large piece of my life. I was stable for years. That had never happened to me before.

My psychiatrist decided to wean me off my meds slowly because I had been stable for such a long period. It was possible that my mental health issues were drug related, so we thought it was worth a try to get off medication. I was down to two medications, and then she took me off the Seroquel. About 4 months later, I started to fall apart. I thought it would be a good idea to go to therapy again because I started to remember things that I hadn’t previously remembered. These memories triggered what was eventually diagnosed as PTSD. With the PTSD coming up and the med changes occurring, it was like the perfect storm. I started having hallucinations and was shaking uncontrollably. My psychiatrist put me on Abilify, but that made it worse. I barely slept for 3 weeks.

My job let me work from home, but after a little while, I couldn’t even manage that any more. I went on short-term disability, which then turned into long-term disability. There were times that I struggled to feed the dog. My mom came out to stay with me for a little while, but she couldn’t be there all the time. I decided to move back to Connecticut because I couldn’t be on my own anymore. I’m lucky that she was able and willing to let me and my dog move in with her. My long-term disability turned in to Social Security Disability.

I thought writing my story would help my memory, and it has; but it has also become difficult for me. There’s a lot that I struggle to remember, and a lot of other things I wish I didn’t remember. I think I’m going to take a break from writing my story for a little while.

Getting Sober And Starting A Life – My Life: Part 4

Getting Sober And Starting A Life – My Life: Part 4

I flew across the country at the end of April in 2004. On April 29th, 2004 I was admitted to a year-long in-patient rehab. I was excited to go until I got there. Once I arrived, my fears kicked in and I told my mom that I changed my mind about going to rehab. She ensured me that I could do it. I trusted her; I always trust my mom because she has never given me a reason not to.

Rehab was very tough. I couldn’t talk to my family for the first 6 weeks. Then I could only talk to them once a week on Sundays for 15 minutes. There was a strict schedule that had to be followed. On Sundays we had to clean our living areas and everything had to pass inspection. I think that may be why I am so obsessive about cleaning my house. We had to make dinner every night for our houses. This required making a menu, grocery list, and assigning specific tasks. I had a therapist and a psychiatrist that I saw weekly. They managed my medication so I never missed a dose.

We were required to go to AA meetings that were put on by the staff members. A couple times a week we were allowed to go to outside meetings that were supervised by staff members. We were also required to have a sponsor and do step work. In the beginning, it was tough. However, as time went on, it became normal. The step work brought up a lot of issues that I was able to work on. The hardest part for me was believing in a Higher Power. I’m Jewish by blood, but I was raised Catholic. I never believed in what I was taught in Sunday school and I never related to anything I heard in church. I don’t like the word God for many reasons. Overall, I just don’t believe in God. Some people may not like to hear that, but I’m just being honest. The great part about belief according to AA is that you just have to believe in a power greater than yourself. I can admit that. I know that I’m not the most powerful thing out there. I’m not sure what it is, but I know it’s not me. I do believe in science and Mother Nature, which then became my Higher Power.

Family was invited to visit every 3 months for workshops, which helped to work through some family problems. My mom came every time. My brother, sister, and aunt each came for one of the workshops as well as my graduation. I was so amazed at how much my family supported me; especially after all of the crap I put them through over the years. Once I completed the year-long program (which felt like forever), I worked at the rehab for 9 months helping others get sober.

I made some friends from the rehab, but most of those relationships faded off. I did date one of the guys that I met there, and we ended up living together for a while. The school teacher from the rehab became a close friend of mine and we spent time together after I left. His wife ended up being my sponsor when I lived on my own. I even became close with their family.

The First Downfall – My Life: Part 3

The First Downfall – My Life: Part 3

Just before I turned 17, I met a guy and was immediately attracted to him. Jared had a personality that was appealing to many. He made friends with people easily, but he only let them see the side of his personality that he wanted them to see. For the first couple months of our relationship, he only let me see positive traits. Once we moved in together, everything changed. He became physically and emotionally abusive. He would tell me when I could see my friends. I had to have dinner on the table when he got home, or else. We did a lot of drugs together. I fell for every trick he played and didn’t stand up for myself at all. He had me convinced that I was lucky to have him; he made me believe that no one else would want me. The worst part of it all is that he broke up with me. He said I wasn’t happy anymore. I remember telling him he would regret it. I was devastated. I don’t know why I was so hung up on a guy that treated me like crap, but I was.

At a party, I met a guy who was so sweet. Chris was the exact opposite of Jared, except for the drug use. I started smoking crack when I met Chris. Jared tried to get back together with me, but I finally stood up for myself and told him no. Jared started stalking me at that point, so I became terrified for my safety even more than I already was. Chris and I dated for several months. He kept talking about getting sober, but I wasn’t ready for that. I was completely addicted to crack that it came before everything. I was even with Chris getting high instead of being at the hospital when my dad died. That is one of the biggest regrets I have. Chris ended up getting killed only a few months after we met.

The loss of my father was exceedingly difficult, even though I knew for years that it was coming. He had been sick for many years with cancer and kidney failure. He ended up dying from an infection on October 10th, 2003. He was in the ICU for a while before his death. I miss my father and think of him every day. Losing him was like losing a part of myself. I wish I had been there to support my family, but I was too far into my addiction. I wish he could have seen me get sober.

My drug use was insane, I was almost always drunk or high on something. All of this made my mental health even worse. I was dealing with rapid cycling; I was either manic or depressed at all times. I didn’t want to spend much time with my friends, the few that I had left. All I wanted to do was die. This was probably my lowest point in life. I finally decided I wanted to quit drinking and using, but I couldn’t do it. I wished I was dead every day. I had lost so much in life, but the worst thing I lost was my self-respect.

One day, I had finally had enough. I went to my mom and told her I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I needed to go back into the hospital. She told me that a behavioral health hospital would not fix things. I needed more than that; I needed to get sober. Apparently, she had already been looking at places to send me. She showed me some of the places she found. I was interested in this one place in Arizona; it was a year-long in-patient treatment center. It treated drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health. I actually became excited; I finally felt a glimmer of hope. I was scared, but so enthused about the possibility of feeling better, that it actually lessened the fear. Most people don’t go to rehab willingly. I went not only willingly, but eagerly. I was also terrified; the thought of something new scared me, but the depression was so horrible that I felt my only other option was death.

Gym Work Out

Gym Work Out

I’m so proud of myself today. My husband has been talking about going to the gym for a little while now, and he has been wanting me to go with him. Before we started dating, we used to go to the gym together 5 days a week. We were workout partners and we had a lot of fun working out together. Our workouts were what used to get me through my days at work. I always had something to look forward to. So we signed up at a gym so we could get back in shape together. Even though we have a workout room in our house, it’s different. Working out at a gym has a different atmosphere, making it easier and more encouraging to complete a workout than to do so in our own house.

I was scared to go to the gym because it’s something new, and I don’t do new things very well. I told my husband that I could do it as long as he doesn’t leave me alone. He makes me feel safe. Today, we worked out together and he didn’t leave me once. He knows exactly how to work out to get what we want because he used to be a personal trainer. We’re starting out slow, so we don’t overdo anything and then end up not going back. Our plan for now is to work out 5 days a week, like we used to do. We’re doing full body workouts. I’m so proud of myself for doing this. I think this will also help our relationship because it gives us something new to do together. He even told me, before he left for work, how much he enjoyed today.