Dealing with the need to take psych meds is like trying to walk a tightrope while juggling plates and playing an accordion. I hate having bipolar disorder, I really do. Yes, I know things could much worse, and I should be grateful. I could have some debilitating disease that had me bed ridden, in constant pain. But I don’t, I have what I have and I have to deal with it. I don’t always deal with it gracefully by a long shot.
All my evil little pill bottles have a warning on them “if you have forgotten to take your pill at a certain time, wait until it’s time to take the next dose, don’t take it now. OOOkkkKKK??!! #&^%(*@ But what do you do when you are freaking out NOW? I say “screw it!” and take them now. I’d rather get too sleepy and have to take a nap than go on a magic carpet ride of rage, depression, anxiety attacks, near catatonia and whatever the bipolar Bag 0’ Tricks has in store for me on any given day. I might be able to get away with riding it out if I had a storm bunker to lock myself in and hang a sign on the door saying “Warning! Bipolar cyclone raging within, enter at your own risk.” But I don’t and I don’t live alone and I have to leave the house occasionally. Being a hermit just depresses me more.
People who are not dealing with mood spectrum disorders tend to think “well hey, just take your meds and everything will be OK. What the hell is wrong with you anyway?” What is wrong with me??? Excuse me, but it doesn’t work that way. Taking meds “manages” a disorder; it is not a guarantee that you will never have a mood storm. It gives you a tool to fight with it. But meds can be a blunt instrument and it is extremely tricky finding a balance. Furthermore, just when you think you’ve found a balance your body decides to react differently to your meds, or worse, not respond to them at all. The balance is a moving target.
Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland trying to figure out which side of the mushroom to nibble on. Too much and I blunder around in a stupor and do nothing but stare at the TV, unaware of what I’m even looking at. Not enough – I turn into a motor mouth and talk the ear off of anyone I can pin down, blissfully unaware that they are scrambling to get away from me. I also start eleventy seven projects at once and when I come to my senses I can’t figure out how to pick up where I left off.
I have those little days of the week pill cases that I fill up at the beginning of the week. They help, but sometimes it too much to face looking at an entire week’s worth of meds right under my nose. That’s when the thought creeps in “do I really need to be taking all this crap? Am I a drugged slave to big Pharma?” I have to be careful when asking these questions, because there is a never ending supply of people who are all too happy to inform me that I shouldn’t be taking meds at all, that I’m just weak or a dupe. I just need to meditate, do yoga, cut dairy out of my diet, dance naked under the full moon, etc.
That’s when I have to dig down deep and remember what it felt like when I was not taking meds. Oh sure I was “managing” it. Hanging on by my fingernails every day trying not to fall or jump into the abyss. I don’t want to live like that again. I guess it’s time to take my meds.
Well damn! Mr. Husband is doing our taxes. He keeps asking me questions. I want to scream! Oops, I think I did scream. Sorry about that.
I tend to describe myself as an outgoing loner. A big part of the problem is that I’m always a half beat away from everyone else’s rhythm. I can do taxes myself just fine, but I can’t figure out how to do them with another brain. It’s not a matter of “my way or the highway” or even “your way or the highway.” It’s either my way or your way. I can’t think about taxes or do any other complex and/or mathematical complexity in tandem. It ends up being a 3 legged race and those are always hilarious, but not very productive.
This morning he asked me what DSW was. My response was “Designer Shoe Warehouse.” Of, course. What the hell else could it be? (If you ask the question of a shoe freak) It ended up that he did know what DSW meant. What he was asking me…I think…was how to describe it in QuickBooks on our bank statement so that he would remember what it meant, at some point in the future. Dude, are you serious? You are asking me how to prompt the inner workings of YOUR brain? I spend the majority of my time trying to figure my own self out, and sometimes failing miserably.
What is going on is a major case of temporary denial. I’m clicking along finer than fine and then – BAM, I’m not. No particular reason, nothing is different. I’m OK then I’m not, that’s all there is to it. I almost hear the click as the switch flips. The way things look literally changes – drastically. Colors are not right, the angle of the sun seems wrong for the time of day.
Running water sounds like Niagara Falls. The tone and drone of the voices of the newscasters on Fox News (Hub likes it – I hate it) become so annoying that I want to throw the coffee table through the TV and then run outside and Hi-five my neighbors. Everything and everybody seems out of sync. Like listening to the static between radio channels and trying to make sense out of it.
Oh yea, I know what this is now. I keep forgetting that I have this totally frustrating, stupid bipolar mood disorder thing. I am minding my own business, and it sneaks up on me when I least expect it. I wonder, could I get a restraining order from this disorder where it has to stay 500 feet away from me at all times? That would be cool.
What I can do is remember that bipolar just happens, it’s not my fault. I didn’t eat the wrong thing, or stay out in the sun too long, watch the wrong movie, or listen to the wrong conversation. I can be vigilant, and try to pay attention to warning signs, but sometimes there are none. What is not helpful is beating myself up when it just happens without a warning.
How many times in your life have you heard “Be careful what you ask for, because you might get it?”
My hair dresser got me good a few days ago. Been with her forever, she is in the 8 month of her third baby in the making now. I met her when she was just newly married. Until yesterday, I would just let her do whatever she wanted to do with my hair and it always worked out pretty good.
What she did was finally, after all these years together, was cut my hair exactly how I wanted it cut. I think I micromanaged ever hair on my head. She did seem to be laughing a lot, come to think of it, but I just chalked it up to pregnancy hormones.
I got home, looked in the mirror and thought “oh my GOD, this is hideous. No wonder she never listened to me before.” Having a few self-esteem issues obviously, but then I started laughing. All these years I trusted her to be an expert and do what she did best, then I butted in and thought I knew better. As we say in the gaming world – FAIL!
So I hate my haircut and will probably wear a bag over my head for a few weeks. At least it wasn’t a tattoo or piercing or something else more permanent than a bad hair day.
So what I learned was that I have trust issues even with a hair stylist. I have to trust experts to be experts. That’s a lot to ask, in my opinion. All my life I have labored under the delusion that the only one I could trust was me. Then the “me” that I knew took a flying leap into bipolar mania and suddenly I couldn’t even trust myself.
Trusting any one now requires a giant leap of faith, more faith than I can muster most days. I finally let down my hair last night (what’s left of it) with Mr. Husband a few nights ago and tried to tell him how I feel about this illness, and what I’m most afraid of. Telling someone my fears has always been a huge risk for me because it always seemed like I was giving someone a menu of items to use to push my buttons.
I’ve been keeping him at arm’s length and talking about bipolar disorder in a distant kind of way. Keeping it clinical; chemicals, neurons, clinical sounding diagnosis, medicine in terms of milligrams, rather than effects, side effect of meds, long term prognosis, etc. Instead of telling him that my biggest fear is the loss of trust of my judgment, the integrity of myself as the person I thought I knew.
Hubman told me that he has always trusted my judgment and still does. It was a huge relief and I had a good cry over it. I had been harboring the fear that he was going to start chasing me around with a butterfly net.