Bipolar Diary: Incremental Shift

TWMental

Loving Nudge

After my Bipolar Diary: Depression Deepens post, I had several people tell me to call my psychiatrist immediately. I thought I could white knuckle it for another week, but others saw what I couldn’t. I trust those closest to me and picked up the phone, getting pushed into a non-existent spot in his schedule the next day. Wednesday, August 2, 2017.

Office Visit

The crying had been keeping me from functioning and did not abate while in his office.

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I told him about the suicidal ideation increasing… then added the obligatory, “But I have no plans to hurt myself, am not stockpiling meds and promise to call 911 if I do find myself getting too close.” He replied, “I understand how frightening they (the thoughts) can be, even when you aren’t consciously creating them.” I breathed a sigh of relief that he seemed to understand.

soren dreier
artist: Soren Dreier

I’ve had at least 8 different psychiatrists in 30 years and this one is one of the top 2. He listens to me, takes my preferences seriously like refusing the Risperdal increase and is infinitely patient with my continued distress.

I really am so blessed to have such a kind (and gifted) doctor. I know that is rare and how privileged I am to be able to receive quality medical and psychiatric care.

I OWE MY AWESOME CARE TO THE ACA/OBAMACARE INSURANCE I HAVE.

I would not be alive without it.

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Medication Change… Again

I continued crying while he pondered, looking at his computer, typing some, then thinking again.

He found a medication I had not tried before… Latuda… which I’ve since read is used specifically for bipolar depression. Yes, yes… it does come with a laundry list of side effects, but I’m ignoring them, listening to my body instead.

I know it takes at least 2 weeks (in my body) to 6 weeks to feel the full effect of psych meds, but when I got home from the appointment, I took my first pill. Then the next morning, I took the second. (It is taken once a day.)

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Whether placebo or really working that fast, I did not cry until late evening the next day. I didn’t cry the next night, either. And the ideation has slowed, the thoughts feeling more “transparent,” fewer hard imaginings. The images had been like mosquito bites, begging to be scratched. (Not sure I explained that clearly… I’m having a terrible time writing this, pardon spelling and grammar errors, please.)

August 6, 2017

I’m feeling better still. The doc told me that if I was feeling too sedated, to drop the Risperdal, which I did on day 3 after starting the Latuda. I’ve been on Risperdal since 1995, so it is a major thought process to not take it before bed. I do feel less sedated (I described it like someone spiked my drink), but there’s a lot more room for not dropping into a slumber at any given moment.

Let me get this out so those who are following along know how I am doing. Thanks for you care and attention, my dear friends. Thank you for your love.

free getting
artist: Zenos Frudakis

Bipolar Diary: Depression Deepens

TWMental

Depression

The last 2 weeks have sucked even worse than when I wrote on July 13, 2017. Tears. Tears. Never-ending tears. The suicidal ideation is coming more often and is more vivid than when I started the Paxil. And the damn hallucinations are back.

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Almost all of my time is in bed, either curled in pain (another post), staring at the ceiling or sleeping. I leave I Love Lucy on in the background. Sometimes Friends. I’m listening to Mists of Avalon (a book I love), but when I listen in bed, I fall right to sleep. I’ve replayed Chapter 6 four times already.

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artist: Edvard Munch

An Odd Sorta Depression

When looking for images about depression lying, I came across several pieces like this one below:

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Not sure if I’m just more familiar with my depression than when I was younger or if it has really shifted, but I do not hear the lies the girl in the image does… nothing negative about my body, how alone I am in the world, how fat/ugly/sick I am. I did when I was younger, but not anymore.

I just feel sad. An overwhelming sadness. A pall of melancholia that separates me from the rest of you. I cannot even touch what I am sad about except for the endless distress I have about our country because of 45. But this joylessness is deeper than the fear-for-our-lives kind. I feel like I’m under the thick glass of my Nana’s cake pedestal, so close to others, but unable to penetrate the barrier of dreariness to make a connection.

cake close

Medication Changes

The psych doc upped the Paxil to 30mg after 2 weeks on 20mg. He said he still might have to increase it when I see him in 2 weeks. For fuck’s sake, can’t this stuff take effect already? I hate this waiting part.

paxil 30

I have weaned off the Cymbalta. Is that the reason for this huge dip? Who knows anymore. He wanted to increase my Risperdal, but I refused; the eating is out of control with more Risperdal… can’t abide by that.

An aside: I despise the new packaging that seems to be taking over the medication world. I am not stupid, can follow directions, but they are incredibly difficult for me to get into. I’ve asked the Pharmacy to open them for me and then I rip the inner blister pack out, throwing the outer box away. If you haven’t see them, let me introduce you.

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“Follow these 3 simple steps,” it says. Push the blister pack all the way in, then press on the “lock release button” on the left . Finally, pull the sliding pack out at the same time as pushing the spot on the left. I wish it was as easy as they make it sound! It’s almost worse that rubbing my head and patting my belly at the same time.

Suicidal Ideation

I’ve had lots of suicidal thoughts. My cub stayed with me one night when they were especially bad, reminding me every few minutes that Depression is a Liar. Hearing that, knowing it for certain, is what kept (keeps) me going. Hearing that so-and-so loves me doesn’t do much for my mindset because I rationalize that away easily. Depression Lies, however, works wonders.

Depression is a lying bastard

The thoughts of suicide are so enticing. They call to me seductively as if they were sirens on the ocean’s rocks.

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I try to block them out listening to various albums I have memorized. The Eagles, Carly Simon, Sting (Living Sea), and, of course, Hamilton: An American Musical.

I also try to find positive recovery-from-depression-and-suicidal-thoughts articles and posts online. This is one I go back to over and over:

Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone who is Suicidal and Save a Life

“A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting.”

When I had my first serious clinical depression in my late teens, I didn’t understand the “wanting the pain to stop” aspect and teetered really close to the edge of death.

As I got older and had some decent therapy, I was able to verbalize the inner turmoil and excruciating emotional pain that was drawing me towards dying. Understanding that I didn’t really want to die, but just to stop hurting… a pain that went so deep as to injure my soul… I was able to cling to those brief seconds of “medication will help remove the pain… hang on a little bit longer.”

Medication and therapy have not failed me yet.

Working/Not Working

Work has been nearly impossible the way I feel. I can do one call, then need 2 hours off to regroup. The calls are easy, mostly with regulars, but the energy expenditure exhausts me. Even writing this post has taken 4 days so far. Ugh. I need to be able to work!

Okay, I need to get this out to you all. It is not a cry for help, I promise. I will not hurt myself, have no plans to.  It’s just those random thoughts that flow through my mind… sometimes like heavy cinder blocks and others like wafting vapors. As long as they continue moving on the conveyor belt, I think I’m okay and headed towards healing.

trudging along

Thanks for listening

depress help
Always reaching for help.

Smatterings

Unfinished Writings

I have several posts pending, but cannot seem to finish any one of them.

  • My Wall-E-esque Life: “Fat Positivity” Fails

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  • Pain: A Cruel Mistress

embracepain

  • Gallbladder GONE!
  • Acceptance Into Anthology

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Other Crap

I’m also having olfactory hallucinations again and would like to write about that, too. And then there’s 45 and his bullshit trips abroad.

I’m struggling with work, losing client after client because I am so sick I’m unable to be signed in for them to call me.

Wahhhhh!

But I felt I owed my few readers at least some update about why I have not been around. Really, really, working hard on getting at least something done and posted.

Please stay tuned!

struggle

Bipolar Diary: Zero Gravity Hallucinations

I’d thought I’d come to a place of balance. I was still having hallucinations, mostly visual, some auditory and tactile, but those not so often. Even though the hallucinations have continued, I told the Psychiatrist I did not want to take more Risperdal to try and make them go away. The short time I was on the increased amount (double what I am on now), I gained 30 (fucking) pounds in 6 weeks. As soon as we halved it, I stopped eating like an insatiable animal, and have now lost 10 of those 30 pounds. I told him I’d just suck up dealing with the hallucinations.

However, there does come a tipping point between what I can live with and seeing much of my room floating around as if I was in space.

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Balance – dance troupe, Pilobolus

What’s Going On?

I cannot pinpoint why they are getting bigger, more bizarre and more aggressive. My sleep is weird, but I am sleeping. I’m in an inordinate amount of pain, but that isn’t too new… I had my gallbladder removed on February 2 and have had a series of infection complications since. I’ve got other pain, but can usually meditate to work through it. (I have Trazadone if I need help sleeping, but have only taken that a couple of time.)

Visual

A crazy hallucination I had the other day was seeing my pillow breathing. Yes, I know… ridiculous, but I stared at it as it inhaled and exhaled for the entire 5-minutes I watched. I blinked, shook my head, told myself there was no way in hell that was real, yet the pillow kept inflating and deflating, slowly, as if it was breathing. I glance over a lot to see if it’s going for a repeat performance. Nothing so far.

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I have the usual roaches and now some flying bats, but those are pretty yawn-inspiring since they’ve been around so long now. It’s the floating toilet paper roll, the pens, my Blistex lip balm… things that are here in my room, in my real life, just appearing, mid-air… there… and then fleetingly gone again. My food shifts next to me. I “see” music coming out of the speaker. The movements around the room are near-constant. (The book next to me is shuffling the pages as I write this.)

funky apple gif

I try to drive infrequently and only for less than a mile or two because it is frightening to not know if that box flying through the air is an illusion or really fell off that truck up there. I am terrified when I pass bus stops because people are so close to the edge, they slide over into the road sometimes, sliding back just as I get ready to veer away from hitting them. I do everything in my power to never drive during school drop-off or pick-up, the amount of busy-ness in the roads confuse me terribly. Don’t even get me started on mailboxes.

Tactile

tactile-and-visual-hallucinations

I am tapped periodically. No one is here to tap me. It’s nothing. I feel things crawling on me a lot. My room is clean! There are no bugs to crawl on me. No fleas, no gnats. Nothing. Yet I could swear there was a spider crawling up my leg or on my arm. Even when I am looking right at my skin, seeing with my eyes that it isn’t there, it is there… I just cannot see it is all. (Talk about a mind fuck!)

Auditory

I have these the least at the moment. Just some occasional whispers. Nothing telling me to do anything, I don’t get those kinds. I just get ominous whispers, just out of hearing range… my name whispered a lot.

shiver

Resolution

Klimt
artist, Gustav Klimt

Writing all that down, I see I really might need to just up the Risperdal to curb some of this extraneous activity in my brain. I am crying writing this, fearful of gaining more weight. (I gained 80 pounds in 3 months when I started the Risperdal 13 years ago.) I know there are other meds I can try, but I get Tardive Dyskinesia so easily… and have it already from the Wellbutrin… I am so wary of changing from meds I know work.

Fuck, this is confusing sometimes.

Thanks for listening.

My Navelgazing Midwife Goodbye

Weaning is complete.

I began my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page (NgM FB Page) in 2009 and will be closing the door on it Monday, March 13, 2017.

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I took this photo and used it for 10 years on my business card and in correspondence. One of my favorite clients, Silvia Frank, was killed by her husband after she left him for Domestic Violence. Her 5 daughters are amazing.

I became the Navelgazing Midwife (NgM) right around 2003 or so. The first blog I had was on Blogger, but when they snatched pages from it and censored me because I had nude women (birthing and breastfeeding!), I moved to Squarespace after making sure they would not be censoring.

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One of the favorite photographs I’ve ever taken. Jenna was nearing the end of her labor and we watched, mesmerized, as her uterus crested outside the water during contractions, then her belly sinking completely under the water after the wave. This picture was the header for my Navelgazing Midwife Blog for several years.

My first post on the Navelgazing Midwife Blog was July 3, 2004 and the last post I put there was July 31, 2016, directing folks to my new blog, the Navelgazing Writer (NgW). I’ve debated closing the NgM blog, but know there are still wondrous birth stories there and some midwifery history we would be good to remember as time passes.

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Katie birthing Uma while her mother supports and loves her. Katie’s mom has passed; looking at this, my heart soars. I took this photo.

My NgM FB Page holds much history as well, including the moment-by-moment births of my grandbabies Gabriella and Preston… and included the postpartum hemorrhage that nearly killed Meghann 36 hours after Preston’s birth. The news of my angel grandbaby Eliott is also enclosed within these pages. My newest granddaughter Alexandra’s early cesarean birth was announced there a mere 3 months ago.

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Gabriella, 5 – Preston, 2.5 – Alexandra, 1 month (my grandbabies!)

If you’re reading this on the NgM FB Page, you already know I have been weaning for a while. I left birth completely 2.5 years ago (except for my grandbabies), having left midwifery 5 years before that. News has gradually lessened; my commentary barely audible anymore.

I’ve turned to chronicling my life for my kids and their kids, sharing my knowledge of and inclusion in the early LGBT communities in Orlando, Florida, Frankfurt, Germany & San Diego, California. I have barely begun to share the story of my 2+ decade-long relationship with Zack (previously known as Sarah) and the impact of his transitioning on our lives.

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Zack (before his transition) nursing his son and my daughter Aimee. We co-nursed for 2.5 years, often saying all families should have 4 lactating breasts in the home. I took this picture, circa 1986.

Interspersed will have to be birthy stories… I just wrote 2 about the immigrant populations I worked with in San Diego and El Paso, Texas. Birth has been an integral part of my life since January 1983… I could not write my autobiography without including it. I just have a different viewpoint now that I am above and far away from the stories that once affected every aspect of my spirit, emotions, relationships and friendships.

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Shayla and her then-husband. Shayla had one of the most horrific hospital births I attended in 32 years. Exhibit A demonstrating blatant racism in maternity care.

I’ve had a sort of hidden life for a long time… one of intense sexuality and BDSM. I was a lifestyle submissive with my former partner Zack and am writing about these things as well.

My life since puberty has been colored with mental illness. Bipolar Disorder and Depression and are well-represented in the NgW blog. Much more to come as the blog is still fairly new.

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I was addicted to opiates for 8 years, it sliding through my sister’s dying of an accidental overdose on opiates, Fentanyl being the actual cause of her death. I am now 2.5 years clean and share that story in my new blog as well.

My body, at almost 56-years old, is tired, disabled and in a lot of pain; Mindfulness Meditation and 800 mg. ibuprofen are my pain relief. I struggle with a plethora of issues, most fat-related. It is crucial for me to write about my life as a fat woman, someone who’s tried a hundred times to not be fat anymore, but still fat after trying it all. My feet have arthritis and keep breaking just from walking. I have osteoporosis (from the gastric bypass). My diabetes, while okay at the moment with a HgbA1c of 5.9, that is with 2 insulins on board.

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Since leaving birth, I’ve become a sex worker. I’m not writing a lot about it at the moment, but it colors my life tremendously. Amazingly, all the years of birth work and therapy have armed me adequately for caring for the men, women and transfolks I work with every single day. There is not one day when my birth experiences do not figure prominently in the interactions with others.

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Because of the state of the United States right now, I explored different topics about which to write, but quickly saw that, not only did some topics affect my mental state, but a zillion different ones joined the list every day. I needed to focus my attention and have chosen Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press as my main demonstration issues against 45.

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Illustrator, Eric Drooker

It’s been an interesting shift in my thought process, from birth to politics. I’m observing my Self intently, monitoring my emotions, mental state, my body’s physical responses and lastly, what those around me have to say about what I’ve written. The NgW Blog is still really small, very few readers with each post, but it took about 2 years for the NgM Blog to pick up steam, so I’m not sweating it. Also, I really am writing for myself, giving flight to my thoughts and experiences, and if others find what I write helpful or creates a visceral response, all the better.

writealways

There were only a couple of posts in the NgM Blog that were written with the reader in mind and whenever I did that, I regretted it. Of all the posts, only one was removed and edited because of the backlash I got from my licensing organization. (I cannot tell you how freeing it is to be completely unrestrained now, writing writing writing without someone threatening my livelihood. There really are nasty, ugly parts to midwifery politics in the US.)

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I know many of you reading have followed me for a long time. I cannot thank you enough for considering my views and listening to my thoughts, even when you disagreed with me. Thank you for challenging me, making me think… allowing me to shift and change and grow. I am not the same woman who created the nom de plume “Navelgazing Midwife,” but you are not the same either. Isn’t it amazing to witness our own growth and transformations?

NgMadieu

Endless gratitude to all of you and may your lives and the lives of those around you be filled with boundless love and light. You will never be forgotten.

theend purple

Bipolar Mania Redux

Yeah, the Mania has returned.

Once again, I am a live wire that hums like a fluorescent bulb, sleeping 2 hours a day, am a writing banshee and logged into work for many hours at a time.

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See-Saw Up & Down

From mid-September 2016 to early November 2016, I was in a pretty intense Manic State. The last Manic Episode I’d had before that was 1998.

It seemed to take forever to get control over the hallucinations and be able to sleep, and when I did, I slid into Depression mid-December. The fight to find balance between soaring highs and plunging lows has eluded me. Just when I think I am finding stasis, I slip by it and move to the next level of distress.

And here we are, mid-January 2017, and I am, once again, having hallucinations, staying awake for far, far too long.

Will I never find balance?

Hallucinations AGAIN

I’ve had increasing hallucinations for at least 2 weeks now. They aren’t terrifying yet, but they are on their way there.

Today I was visited by a bat!

corynorhinustownsendiiflying

Fucking thing was flying around the room then dove right for my head. I ducked and covered myself, but, of course, it wasn’t real, so if someone had been watching, it would have given them a hearty laugh. Other visual non-existent treats have been my clothes on the back of the door lifting off and swaying back and forth a couple of times and nondescript somethings sitting on the dressers or on my bed.

(I feel like a crazy woman sharing these things. How can I talk about what is going on so casually? I think it is just getting to be so normal, I am more shrugging than freaking out about it.)

The auditory hallucinations have returned, my hearing all sorts of crazy noises from windstorms to doorbell chimes. And the incessant whispers, always just out of earshot and too low for me to understand, but they are not happy noises. “Ominous” is the word I would use to describe them.

nguyen-hoang-hiep
artist, Nguyen Hoang Hiep

Oh, the goddamn tactile sensations. Again, feeling like I have bugs crawling on me. Not lots so far, but just enough to make me slap myself periodically.

Not smelling anything (yet) – olfactory hallucinations – but those are probably what’s up next on the Manic menu.

Writing writing writing

book-letters

And so I write. Here,  in my work blog, in Facebook. The words tumble out of my fingers even when I am meditating trying to sleep. I cannot keep them still as they search for a keyboard upon which to create.

This is the part of the Mania that keeps me from telling my doctor or taking more Risperdal because the deliciously creative period would be fleeting and, right now, the negativity of hallucinations is balanced by the verbosity of my words.

So shhhhh. Keep my secret quiet for now.

And watch the words spill from my psyche.

 

Bipolar Diary: Terribly Depressed

One sign of when I am in a serious depression is I can no longer write. It’s been since Dec. 30th that journaling words have come out of these fingers.

red-flag

Psych Visit

I went to the Psych today and sobbed about how frustrated I am about this post-mania depression. He said it just takes time. I said I am losing time by sleeping and losing LOTS of money by not working.

Blessedly, no suicidal thoughts or ideation. Still have visual hallucinations, but meh on those.

Last thing we did was up the Wellbutrin (of which I have even worse Tardive Dyskinesia now). Now we’re upping the Cymbalta from 60mg qd to 90mg qd. He said he is giving it 4 weeks to change things before he considers upping it again.

Can you hear me groaning in despair?

sigh