The Beginning Of It All – My Life: Part 2

The Beginning Of It All – My Life: Part 2

Trigger Warning: The following talks about drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and suicidal gestures.

I believe that I started to change when I was in 7th or 8th grade. The friends I chose were different from before and I became a sad and angry person on the inside. Many kids go through changes around this age, but I took it a bit too far. Then, one day, I was told that my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer). I was devastated. My whole life was turned upside down. The day after I found out about my father’s diagnosis, I remember walking into town and feeling very upset. As I was walking, one of my new “friends” saw me and asked what was wrong. I told him about my father and how upset I was. He gave me cocaine and told me it would make me feel better. That was the start of a treacherous journey over the next many years. Cocaine made me forget how horrible I felt, although it caused so many other problems.

My dad’s diagnosis was a trigger for me, but if it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else.  My drug and alcohol use as well as my mental health problems were not my father’s fault; in fact, they were no one’s fault. It’s just a part of my story. I couldn’t believe I was losing my father and I didn’t know how to handle it. My parents had me go to therapy, but it wasn’t helpful because I wasn’t honest with the therapist. Over the next six or seven years, I tried just about every drug except for meth, and that’s only because it wasn’t available where I lived. The beginning of my drug use was the beginning of my downfall, mentally and emotionally. I also started cutting around the same time that I started using drugs and alcohol. Cutting caused physical pain, which replaced the emotional pain. It was another outlet that caused more harm than good.

I remember that I got caught smoking one day. My parents confronted me about it and I lied to them, which is what they were more upset about. Instead of grounding me, I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, but I had to be with one of my parents at all times. My mom said that I lost their trust. The punishment lasted several months, which felt like forever, until I could prove that I was trustworthy again. I didn’t understand then, but I get it now. Trust is something that’s earned; it’s not a right for anyone.

When I was 14, I made a suicidal gesture. I took a lot of a medication, but I took just less than what would kill me. I knew exactly what I was doing; it was a cry for help. This was my first hospitalization. I met my first psychiatrist at this hospital; he treated me while I was admitted and I kept seeing him after. I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 and borderline personality disorder. I think the only reason I was diagnosed as borderline was because of the self-harm. I still think about cutting, but I haven’t done it in well over a decade. My family was very supportive and caring. I even remember at one point, my mom and sister completed the Family to Family course offered by NAMI so they could better understand me.

I tried just about every medication and med combo available, but nothing really worked. They probably didn’t work because I was also self-medicating with all sorts of drugs and alcohol. I actually told my psychiatrist about the drugs I was using. I often went to our appointments high. He did nothing about it except ask me not to do that again. Of course I didn’t listen to him. There were also some medications that caused me to gain weight. One med caused an 80 pound weight gain, yet he never mentioned that it was an issue at any of our appointments. Now, as an adult, I’m surprised and disappointed that he never informed my parents about my drug use or the side effects such as weight gain. It never seemed as if that psychiatrist at that time cared about my well-being.

I left high school after my sophomore year and went to college at the age of 16. The college was meant for “younger scholars”. I did meet some great friends there who I’m still friends with now, but I also started using more drugs. The actual school part was not a problem. I still did well in my classes, but I stopped caring about school in general. I only lasted one year at that school before dropping out. School was interfering with my drug use, and my mental health was a huge endeavor. I couldn’t do it all, so I left college and eventually got my GED, since I left high school before graduating.

I think that the biggest reason that every attempt to stabilize my mental health didn’t work when I was younger was because of my drug and alcohol abuse. I don’t know how to use anything in moderation. I could never have a drink, I would have a bottle. I couldn’t take just one hit; I had to smoke the whole thing. Even if I was doing well, the drug use would screw me up completely. I also didn’t work very hard on my mental health, I didn’t care very much. Now that I know how much of a difference I can make on my own mental health, I take responsibility for my teenage years being mostly a disaster.

A Wonderful Childhood – My Life: Part 1

A Wonderful Childhood – My Life: Part 1

I’ve decided to write about my story, piece by piece. I’ll begin with my childhood and work my way up. I’m doing this because my memory is horrible and I’m trying to remember my life; I thought that writing out my story could help.

Growing up, I was a very happy child. I easily kept myself busy and entertained. My mom worked from home, so I spent a lot of time with her. My dad ran his own independent pharmacy. I also spent a lot of time with my dad at his pharmacy. I was happy to spend time with both my parents; I loved being with them. I’m the youngest of three children. The town I grew up in had about only 3,200 people. Everyone knew me because of my parents. My mom never had to tell me ‘no’ until I was 6 years old; I was a really good kid in the beginning. She could bring me to her meetings and appointments, and I would keep myself busy playing with rocks and sticks.

School was a breeze for me. I never spent much time working on school work; all of it was done while I was still at school. I don’t remember studying for tests, but I aced everything. I didn’t start getting in trouble at school until I was in middle school. I stayed busy outside of school. In my spare time, I rode horses, played the piano and several other instruments, and went skiing. I even rode horses competitively for many years and did pretty well. My first horse was named Houdini and my second horse was named Copperfield. I spent most of my free time at the barn. I worked there for a while doing things from mucking stalls, to teaching riding lessons, and helping to run summer camps. I’m used to working; my dad had me and my siblings working at his store on Sunday mornings at the very least. It taught me a lot about responsibilities.

My dad decided to take flying lessons one day. He ended up getting his pilot’s license and the two of us would go flying sometimes to different mountains to go skiing, sometimes just to go flying for the fun of it. Spending time with my dad was always a blast. The two of us were adventure buddies. I was always up for anything.

I also remember holidays with my family. Christmas was at our house. Thanksgiving was always at my aunt’s house. There were usually more than 20 people at these holiday events. My parents taught me that family is always there for each other. We support and love each other unconditionally. My entire life, I always knew I was loved. When I would get in trouble, my mom would say something like “I love you, but I don’t like your actions.” Not once while I was growing up, or even now as an adult, have I ever questioned whether or not I was loved. I had an amazing childhood; I know how lucky I was to have such loving parents and family.

 

Further Frustration with My Pharmacy

Further Frustration with My Pharmacy

I’m beyond frustrated at this point. I’m so annoyed and pissed off. I’m still having problems refilling my Clozapine. Yesterday, I had to call the pharmacy 6 times. I finally found out that the problem with my prescription is because of the national database. I don’t know what problem the national Clozapine database has found. My blood work is better than it used to be, it’s finally back to normal. My doctor waited a few extra days to write my prescription because he was waiting for my Clozapine level blood test to come back. That test took a few extra days. I usually get my script on Sundays or Mondays, and this time he didn’t write my script until Thursday. Maybe that’s the problem.

I have an appointment to go do my weekly blood work today. Part of me is wondering if I should even get it done since my script from last week hasn’t been filled. I’m out of Clozapine. If I can’t get my script to be filled today, then I have no Clozapine to take. I wonder if there will be bad side effects or withdrawals. I’ve forgotten to take the medication by accident once or twice. When that happens, I usually end up feeling sick to my stomach, more like a stomach pain. I have no clue what to do. I keep calling the pharmacy, but I’m getting nowhere.

 

Clozapine Refill Frustrations

Clozapine Refill Frustrations

I started my Clozapine rechallenge on April 3rd; I have now been taking it for close to 8 weeks. My doses have increased slowing over that time. I’ve had some side effects, but nothing that can’t be managed or dealt with. Some of the side effects have gone away over time and others I’ve learned to deal with to the best of my ability.

I just had my Clozapine level taken and the results finally came back yesterday. My level came back at 80, which is very low. I’m assuming that my doctor is going to be increasing my dose, but I’m not sure. I don’t really know where he wants my Clozapine level. A low level is between 50 to 150 ng/mL, 200 to 300 ng/mL is a medium level, and 350 to 450 ng/mL is a high level. I’m pretty sure that the therapeutic level begins 100, which I haven’t reached yet.

Every week I seem to have problems with my blood work and filling my prescription. People at the pharmacy tend to lose track of my blood test results, which they need in order to fill my prescription. I have finally learned that if and when the pharmacy says they haven’t received my weekly blood work, I just need to tell them to look in my file. I thought getting my script filled would be easier now that I’ve figured out that part. However, this week’s prescription has been difficult for another reason. First, my doctor wanted to wait for the Clozapine level results so he knew how much to prescribe. I normally get my script filled on a Sunday or Monday. It’s now Thursday, so I can’t last much longer without a refill. My doctor has called the prescription in twice to the pharmacy. He said that he was on hold for 10 minutes just to leave a message. I’ve called the pharmacy 3 times today regarding this script, and it still isn’t filled.

I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get this prescription. It seems to add a great deal of anxiety to my life every week. I’m actually taking Valium just to deal with this situation. I wonder if it does more good than harm.

Knowing Your Diagnosis

Knowing Your Diagnosis

Understanding your own mental health is extremely important. Even though most of us have some type of support system, knowing your own illness is the best way to take care of ourselves. I know that I am diagnosed with Bipolar 1. I have manic, depressive, and mixed episodes. While others may be able to see some of my symptoms, I try to be the first person that can see them. I am aware of the symptoms I exhibit for each type of episode. Knowing my symptoms helps me to catch my episodes before they get too far. Those that I’m close with, such as my husband, family, and best friend are also able to see my symptoms when they start to appear. I can ask these individuals for help to better maintain my mental health.

Hopefully, by paying attention, I will be the first to notice when I’m not sleeping, if I become obsessive, if I have racing thoughts, if I spend too much money, or become overly talkative. These are all signs that I’m becoming manic. I also hope to be the first to notice if I’m sleeping too much, if I feel pathetic or empty, if I cannot find pleasure in activities, if I gain weight, or if I start planning a suicide. These are all signs that a depression is coming. A mixture of these symptoms can mean a mixed episode is starting. I want to be the first to notice my symptoms so that I can get a jump-start on treating the symptoms and episode.

It’s not easy to know and understand your own mental health. Every person’s bipolar disorder is different. Each person has different symptoms occur, and each person has different ways they have found that treat their symptoms. Knowing your symptoms also allows the individual to contact their doctor so he/she can alter medication as necessary. Some of our episodes come from medication changes, from stressful events, from medical changes, or even from out of the blue. The sooner we begin to treat our episodes, and allow our doctors to treat us, the better off we will be. Success comes from knowledge of our own diagnoses.

Vivid Dreams

Vivid Dreams

Insomnia and other sleeping disorders are common among patients with bipolar disorder. I personally have suffered from insomnia. I have taken Ambien, Lunesta, Seroquel, Trazodone, and other medications over the years to get me to sleep. Right now, the Clozapine I take gets me to sleep and keeps me asleep. It is also common for individuals with bipolar disorder to have very vivid dreams, especially nightmares.

Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder often have strange and scary dreams. Many of these patients have anxiety in their dreams. Their type of dreams may also change depending on their status, whether they are manic or depressed. My husband tells me that I am very active at night. I tend to talk a lot in my sleep and I also move around a lot. I’m not sure, but I think that this is related to the type of dream I am having.

Nightmares tend to occur more often for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Personally, I tend to have very vivid and scary dreams, but if I don’t talk or write about them right away, I will easily forget the dreams. For the past couple of weeks, my dreams have been extremely vivid. Everything seems so real. The dreams I’m having are mostly everyday situations. I’ve actually had a few times when I’ve confused my dreams with real life. The dreams are common occurrences such as disagreements with my husband or family members, difficulties with doctor appointments for my physical health, or problems with pets.

One of the things that suck is that I have been feeling physical pain in my dreams, specifically bladder pain like I feel from my bladder disorder. I wish I could get rid of these dreams. Isn’t it enough that I have to deal with this crap during the day? Why do I have to deal with it again in my dreams? I had a conversation with my husband in one of my dreams. I ended up using that conversation from my dreams in a real life situation. My husband had no clue what I was talking about. It took me a while to realize that what I was talking about actually came from a dream.

I think I should start keeping track of my dreams. Maybe I’ll keep a journal next to my bed. This way I can write down what my dream was about as soon as I wake up. If I wait too long, then I completely forget what it was about. I’m interested to find out how my dreams change based on what episode I’m in.

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

My husband and I decided that we want to see our granddaughter; it’s been about a week since we’ve seen her, and so we invited his daughter and boyfriend over for dinner. This all happened last night, and the dinner is tonight. That’s a lot for me to handle. I have to clean the entire house and cook a meal. Then, my husband decided he would invite his mother over because she doesn’t get to see the baby very often. It’s a very sweet thought, but it doesn’t mean more work for him, just more for me. Then I realized I can make lasagna! I made some lasagna with my mom when she was out here last time. I don’t have to do anything, just heat it up from frozen!

Okay, so now all I need to do is clean the house, do laundry, and make garlic bread. That’s not that bad. However, cleaning the house will take a while; there’s dog hair everywhere, even though I cleaned the whole house just a couple of days ago. I also have to figure out where people can eat. There’s not enough room in our house for our dining room table, at least not the way I want it. A couple of people can eat at the counter, there are bar stools there. And then there’s the couch and the desk. I can make that work.

Why is it so stressful having people come over your house? Is it just me, or are other people like this as well? I feel like my house needs to be sparkling clean and organized if I’m having any company over. At least all I need to do is clean the house; I have more time to do it since I don’t have to cook. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many people at my house at one time, so I’m a bit anxious. I’m sure it will all work out, but I will  probably worry about it all day.