The First Medication Change of 2020

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I had plans for 2020. I am sure there is not one person that was not affected in the mental illness community that was not affected by COVID-19. One of my major plans was to lower Seroquel to a more manageable level that I feel less like a zombie in the morning, then the novel coronavirus hit, and I was using Zoom to meet my psychiatrist.

One of the fears is that not seeing me in person means that the trust that I spent over a year building that was crushed by the coronavirus. It is not that the trust was not there, but instead, you never know as a medical professional how isolating like I was advised to do would affect me in different ways. I understood this, but I was also frustrated. There is no doubt I had to learn patience (this came in life coaching.)

The idea of waiting is new to me, but not all is bad. After months of back and forth and resisting the urge to make changes on my own, I decided to broach the subject again, and the result was more to my liking. It was an incremental change from 400mg to 300mg, but it has made a difference. I still sleep, but I am waking up at a better time while still being rested. It is important to note that having my CPAP machine helps me get to sleep quicker, and that is important to note as to why the case I made was valid over time.

There is always this point that I need to make: medication changes should always go through your psychiatrist or medical professional. They are the ones that got you on these medications, and they are the professionals. I can’t stress that enough. Change is good but in the right way. The next step is the continual work on my social anxiety and panic attacks, which have been better if I am honest. That has been in the changes that have happened to my approach to stay in the moments of now. The tools I learned in life coaching have helped me create space with my own physics. Thank you as always for reading.

Thank you always for reading.

For everything social media for James Edgar Skye visit my Linq site here. 

My Life Coach can be reached at groundsforclarity@gmail.com. If you feel suicidal, Kim specializes in helping those who are like me; I recently had my own brush with suicide again in October, and Kim was a pivotal part of why I am still here with her life coaching alongside her ASIST training.

For ASIST Suicide Prevention Training Program | LivingWorks please visit here: https://www.livingworks.net/asist

Buy my book on Amazon through my website.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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So Many…

There are so many men and women out there during this pandemic, waiting, longing and eager to send their friends, partners and parents flowers.

So they waited a long time to show these flowers how pretty and wonderful these people are. But they have to wait a little longer…

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Sending you angel love and blessings.

Love, Francesca.

Too Close To Home

Okay, so I wasn’t going to write anything about the pandemic. However, I’m in the middle of a very personal experience with COVID-19. I knew I’d be a little bit paranoid about this virus – especially because I work with the public. I never imagined my fear would actually come true. I haven’t gotten my test results yet, but I want to share our story thus far.

On Monday, March 16th, my 7-year-old daughter developed a cough. At first, I assumed it was her asthma cough since she was running around outside. However, the cough had gotten more persistent and deep by Tuesday. Tuesday night, at 11:30 pm, she spiked a fever of 104.2. We made a Dr. appointment the next day. I wanted her to be tested because, it turns out, we’ve been exposed to the virus via 3 positive cases at my brother’s work. He also just flew to NYC a few weeks ago and was in 3 different airports (Pittsburgh, NYC, and Dallas). The Dr. refused to test her and I had to force her to at least test for the flu.

When I left the Dr.’s office, I called the department of health to see if we could get tested without the Dr.’s referral. They put me on a mandatory 14 day quarantine and said I needed to go get her tested. I called a testing site in Pittsburgh, who told me they wouldn’t test her because her fever had broke. Fine. We’ll just finish the quarantine. But, by Thursday night, she was taking 40 breaths a minute, which is twice the norm. Her pulse was 107, which is 20 beats per minute faster than norm. And her cough was even worse.

We went to the emergency room at UPMC Northwest at 2 am on Friday, March 20th. The triage nurse didn’t warn the hospital that a possible COVID-19 case was coming in, so they sat us in the waiting room where we put our germs on the chairs. They had me use the check-in kiosk, so that my germs were on the screen. They had me sign a paper with a pen that all other patients use. They took us to a room that wasn’t set up for the virus. They weren’t wearing proper PPE. However, they did take good care of my daughter. Turns out, she developed pneumonia from whatever virus she has. The hospital wouldn’t test her. They sent us home with a note saying that the Wolfe Center would contact us about a test.

I waited a week for a call, and it never came. I waited so long because I’d already been told by a testing site that they won’t test unless all of the symptoms are present at that time. Well, I started to cough on that Friday (March 20th) we went to the hospital. And, a week later, it hadn’t gotten better. I was short of breath and I was wheezing. But I didn’t have a fever, so I didn’t try to get tested.

By Sunday, March 29th, I decided that I wanted to try one more time to get tested. I decided to call Meadville Medical Center. They decided to test me because of the exposure I had, the symptoms I had, and the symptoms my daughter had. Even though I didn’t have a fever. That’s exactly what should have been done to begin with. Not everyone shows the same symptoms. Turns out, I did have a fever when I went to the testing site, and my pulse was 125. My lungs sounded “junky”. They stuck the test swab so far in my nose it felt like they were scraping my brain. It is terrible. The results will be in sometime in the next 72 hours – 2 weeks, depending how backed up the lab facilities are.

Throughout these 14 days, I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that I have no income right now, but I don’t know when I’m returning to work, and I still don’t know if I have the virus. I had to deal with the panic of watching my daughter struggle to breathe and hear her coughing 24/7 and have her temperature be 104.2 for 24 hours. It was terrifying and I live alone and am quarantined, so I went through all of it by myself. I started having trouble sleeping. I lost my appetite. All while being sick with whatever I have. It’s been tough. Let’s not forget, I’m bipolar, and this is definitely a stresser. I have been on top of my mental symptoms and went back on my anxiety and sleeping meds for the time being.

I’m here to say that, maybe we shouldn’t be panicking about the pandemic, but we most certainly should be taking it seriously. If this is what I have, it is no joke. People who have any kind of respiratory issues (we have asthma) are at a higher risk, and it’s no fun watching someone you love struggle to breathe. Even if you will be fine if you catch this virus, your vulnerable family member or friend may not be. Please take this seriously, stay home, and fight for your right to get tested if you have reason to believe you have symptoms or exposure.

New Doctor, New Me.

Haven’t written in a while. Blame the mental illness. I stopped doing a bit of everything for awhile. I finally moved and have been back in Arizona for a couple months. I could already feel better just being back around my support system. Isn’t it weird that you don’t even realize how familiar environments can make or break you?

I started seeing my new doctor the day after I arrived. She really took the time to listen. She asked me a ton of questions and even asked that I take the time to write some things down that we didn’t get a chance to discuss. I was put on an additional medication, respiradone, that was to help in addition to my lamictal and Seroquel. It made me incredibly sick and I have been told that I had what is called Melatonin syndrome. FUN. NOT.

I have since been switched to a new med and only time will tell if it helps. I know that it can be difficult to know if you are improving or not because we do not see how we are, we only feel. I know that I have had problems my whole life with what was mostly referred to as “my attitude and tone”. I now know that it should have been known as my moods (hello mood disorder). I was constantly told that I need to focus on my tone with people and customers at work. This greatly impacted my professional life. It would always begin with being commended for my work ethic, skills, and problem solving skills. A few weeks in and I was kind of discarded because of my attitude. This completely sucked. I would leave work and come back the next morning telling myself that I am just going to do my job and keep my head down. Didn’t happen.

The job I have now has been AMAZING. Since getting back on all my medication (I just up and stopped taking them, bad girl) I have seen a drastic change. I received a raise and was even commended on my professional tone by multiple members of management. MEDICATION WORKS YA’LL. I know that my outlook and perseverance has a hand in my treatment, but I am telling you that I think I am in a good place.

I was recommended for a job by a friend for a project manager position. This a HUGE deal. I have never had anyone offer to help me in getting a leg up in my career. This is the position I acquired over 100k in school loans for. IT’S HERE! As much as I like my current job, I am at a place where there is no growth potential which is incredibly disappointing.

This is not to say that my life has suddenly improved 100% and I have no issues. I am struggling financially and frankly am drowning in debt right now. I can say that had this all come about a few months ago, I am not sure I would be writing this. I was in a really bad place and not managing my mental health in a healthy way at all. I have found myself on a good treatment plan that is allowing me to really manage the stress. Apparently that is a huge trigger for my mania. Isn’t that fun?

I know we have all been at low lows and dark places we can’t imagine pulling ourselves from. Just remember that you recognize your own lows and you are responsible for seeking the help. You can get it. You can manage this.

 

p.s. I promise to contribute more. Money woes=no internet.

A life in three halves

I apologise for the lack of recent posts.  A combination of overwork, overstress and … well, you know.   I don’t need to say because everyone on this site knows.

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I love this image it feels like a perfect reflection of my current state of mind – half mad half elated, half depressed.   A life in three halves.

I recently went – or rather than use the mundane word ‘went’– I would say I recently crawled to my GP, feeling so ill that it seemed nothing short of a miracle to me that I got there and was able to negotiate the stairs, sit in a chair opposite this clipped, professional person and string a few sentences together that may or may not have made sense.  When in my 8 minute allotted window of GP time I tried to explain I thought I was suffering from stress (haha, who am I kidding).     I was met with the reply ‘do you have much stress in your life?’

Perhaps the inference was ‘you’re not a GP and if you were a GP you would know the meaning of the word stress.’

Next please.

Sometimes I worry less about stress than I do about losing the plot completely.  I worry that I’ll end up like poor Bertha Mason striding up and down Mr. Rochester’s attic and I really hope not because that didn’t end well for anyone.  Well, Jane Eyre perhaps.

Anyway I have succeeded in drafting out a novel so not all is disaster.  Not all is disaster all of the time.  And carrying on the books theme because books are mostly my life when I get depressed.  Also when I don’t.    I would like to point folks in the direction of this amazing work by Vietnamese American writer Ocean Vuong  called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous(Jonathan Cape, 2019).  He has amazing thing to say about bipolar disorder in this letter to his mother:

It’s the chemicals in our brains, they say, I got the wrong chemicals Ma. Or rather I don’t get enough of one or the other. They have a pill for it.  They have an industry.  They make millions.  Did you know people get rich off of sadness?  I want to meet the millionaire of American sadness.  I want to look him in the eye, shake his hand and say, “It’s been an honor to serve my country.”

The thing is I don’t want my sadness to be othered from me just as I don’t want my happiness to be othered.  They’re both mine.  I made them dammit.  What if the elation I feel is not another “bipolar episode” but something I fought hard for?

I don’t know whether the author suffers from this disorder or not, or whether he takes medication or not.  I’m not quoting this to come down on one side or another of the medication argument, but everything he writes is so beautiful and feels true to me so I thought I would share it.

Sometimes I agree that any sense of elation is something to be fought for – even though we are inclined to think we’re not supposed to experience that because there is a depressive episode coming.  Who knows?  Not the GP obviously.

Back To School

A couple months before summer hit I made the decision to go back to college. At 32yrs old I decided I wanted more than what I am doing now. Currently I am a pediatric home health aide, taking care of special needs children one on one. Ultimately I would like to do home health care company restricting. I would like to go into companies and restructure their low performing field offices. Making improvements so that not only does the company function better, but so clients get the care they need. There are so many clients who don’t get care or what they get is subpar. I want to change that.

So I started classes this past summer. I went to college in 2007-2008 but I was unable to keep going. My mental health hindered me and I had no help at the time. Now I am at a better place and feel that I can do this. It is not easy but I will keep going. Some days are harder. Yesterday I was in such a funk that I did nothing. I just laid there, knowing I should work, but not wanting to.

 

One of my classes requires I create a Queer Archive as a final project. For my project I am creating an Archive about individuals who have come out at a later age, late 20’s and up. It is a project that I hold close to my heart because of my late coming out. While I came out as bisexual in high school it took me till a little over 2yrs ago to come to terms with actually being a lesbian.

Now I’m here. I would like to ask a favor of the readers here and on my own blog. I am looking for personal testimonials of individuals. If you are interested you can comment here, on my personal page, or visit the page directly https://sites.psu.edu/outlate/

How to Become a Professional Patient – Guest Blog Spot

This is another Guest blog spot from Emily K Harrington, please enjoy.

How to Become a Professional Patient

When you first start psychiatric medication, you honestly don’t know what you’re doing. I wish that there was a class on how to be a good and helpful patient that anyone could take for free when they get their first script, but instead, I will write out the things I believe are crucial in order to make significant progress aided by meds.

Although I am not a doctor or any sort of health professional, I do consider myself a “professional patient,” due to the past 13 years of dealing with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. All that time, I have been in treatment with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, general practitioners, and specialists in various fields. The following is what I’ve learned.

THE RULES

  1. One psychiatric medication does not work the same on everyone. And if you’re already telling other people about your meds (what works for you and what doesn’t), then please read the disclaimer that needs to come before any advice you hand out.
  2. Sometimes a psych med has the effect of causing health problems, making things worse, or affecting you in a way opposite of its intended purpose. An example is that for some people, some antidepressants can cause suicidal ideation, and some antipsychotics can cause hallucinations. These effects happen to a small minority of people, so this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Because…
  3. Psychiatric medication can save your life. A med can bring you back from the brink. A med can improve you enough to be able to use coping skills, which is difficult in a nonfunctional place…
  4. Doctors are stabbing in the dark when you begin treatment. This means that you will probably have to try more than one medication before you find one that works. Once you find one that works, then you will need to…
  5. Adjust your dosage and time of the dose with the guidance of your doctor. Often, a medication that works for you a little bit can work for you a lot after you figure out what time(s) of the day make you feel best. This is often called “tweaking the dose.”
  6. To learn how the dose needs to be tweaked, you will need to KEEP NOTES. Print out a mood chart from the internet (search “mood chart”-it’s easy). Go to Kinko’s or the library if you don’t have access to a printer. I know some apps do the same thing, so look for those instead if you’re inclined. Or just keep a notebook. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you have the following information in an easy to read way:
    • Your daily mood status
    • What you are taking, what time and how much (you don’t need to write down the things that don’t change every day)
    • Your mental illness symptoms, especially anything severe or unusual for you
    • Other health problems
    • Any problem behaviors or events (like self-harm or episodes)
    • Any insight you notice about how you are being affected
  7. Bring your notes with you to the doctor. Some doctors’ appointments are as short as 10 minutes, so every sentence counts. Having all the information on hand eliminates the need for telling long, rambling stories full of irrelevant details. This is probably the most important thing to do in your relationship with your psychiatrist.
  1. If you are prescribed more than one medication, only change your regimen one way at a time, for a trial period of a week or more. Ask your doctor what adjustments are appropriate for you to try if you feel you have an insight about your medicine. My doctor allows me to do trial-and-error testing with the timing of my 6 daily doses because he now trusts my judgment. The reason you should only make one change at a time is that if you’re making multiple changes at once, you cannot clearly determine what is helping or hurting you.
  2. You will probably have to try multiple medications and multiple mixes of meds before you find what works. This process sucks, because the ones that don’t help leave you feeling hopeless of getting better, and sometimes they even make you worse. This is why note-keeping is so vitally important; it allows you to limit the amount of suckage you experience with a med and move on to the next trial, instead of waiting around forever on something that is not right for you.
  3. If your doctor’s office has an online service, learn it and use it.
  4. Pick a pharmacy that is open late hours, 7 days a week. Walgreens and CVS have many stores that fit this bill. Walgreens also has a website and app, and you can put your prescriptions on auto-refill so that you don’t forget to refill them (this does not work with controlled substances like benzodiazepines, which are restricted). If you do not have an auto-refill option online, you can request one in person or over the phone, directly from a pharmacy technician.
  5. Find ways to set reminders to refill your medication. This seems simple and is not. Phone alarms and calendars are options for reminders. Take this very seriously. Missing a dose can send you spiraling.
  6. Ask your doctor if you can get 3-month prescriptions so that you don’t have to go to the pharmacy as often. This is a good practice for preventing missed doses and late prescriptions.
  7. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to take your medication. If this doesn’t work, then set another alarm for ten minutes later. No joke, this is still a paramount practice for me, even after 13 years.

Congrats! You survived the bulk of this course. Now let’s wrap up with another look (for memory’s sake) at the framework of guidelines:

  1. One psychiatric medication does not work the same on everyone.
  2. Sometimes a med has the effect of causing health problems, making things worse, or affecting you in a way opposite of its intended purpose.
  3. A med can save your life.
  4. Doctors are stabbing in the dark when you begin treatment.
  5. Adjust your dosage and time of the dose with the guidance of your doctor.
  6. To learn how the dose needs to be tweaked, you will need to KEEP NOTES.
  7. Bring your notes with you to the doctor.
  8. If you are prescribed more than one medication, only change your regimen one way at a time, for a trial period of a week or more.
  9. You will probably have to try multiple medications and multiple mixes of meds before you find what works. This sucks.
  10. If your doctor’s office has an online service, learn it and use it.
  11. Find ways to set reminders to refill your medication.
  12. Pick a pharmacy that is open late hours, 7 days a week. Walgreens and CVS have many stores that fit this bill.
  13. Ask your doctor if you can get 3-month prescriptions so that you don’t have to go to the pharmacy as often.
  14. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to take your medication. If this doesn’t work, then set another alarm for ten minutes later.

This advice largely applies to other medications, prescriptions, and doctor visits. This is helpful for anyone with a serious illness, not just mental health. This is how you become a “professional patient.”

I hope you gained something from this course written by a totally unqualified stranger. All I can say is that these are things I’ve fought to learn over the past 13 years, and this was not easy knowledge to acquire. Now, these practices are an enormous part of how I stay functional. I do have bad times sometimes, but I also have times when I am in partial remission and feel genuinely okay or even well. Feeling well is a goal worth working for.

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Can I leave them behind?

Can I really leave my mental disorders behind?

That is a question that I get asked a lot.

Is it truly possible for me to completely “heal” from my mental disorders?

I know one can relapse and have another episode of depression depends on life circumstances. But what about disorders like OCD – those which shows more physical presence in our lives?

Will I ever be “OCD free?”

I wish I did not have to ask these type of questions to myself.

I would not even wish it for my worst enemy to ask these questions.

It makes me cringe by the thought of the increasing number of population having mental health problems but not seeing drastic changes in the number of people getting help.

For us to leave “this” behind there has to be change.

A change that brings life by bringing these “Taboo topic” to life opening up and sharing our own experiences using various platforms.

I wish all of us can shake off our disorders and be free.

No more thought bubbles that marks us as our disorder, but being able to pin them down and erasing it from our history.

Do you think we can completely leave our mental disorders behind?

What are Your Worst Mental Illness Symptoms

I feel better. My depression lessened over the weekend, and I have a good feeling about where the rest of February will go when it comes to the depressive episode being entirely over.

I have not felt this good since the first week of January. While thinking about what to write this week on my blog I came up with a question that I want to pose to the followers and contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog. Just a couple of questions.

Identify what you struggle with…

What are your worst symptoms?

How do you dea?

Feel free to leave your comments down below! Let us use this as a stepping stone to something great. Maybe it will inspire you to write a blog post!

Always Keep Fighting

James

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The Bipolar Writer Needs Help… Again

https://www.gofundme.com/rasing-to-upgrade-the-bipolar-writer-blog

This is my GoFundMe under my real name David TC (I wasn’t sure if I could get the funds if I used my Pen Name James Edgar Skye.) Thank you in advance for donating!


So, my goal is $300. The cost to upgrade. If 100 people donate 3 dollars, I can reach my goal quickly (the donation button is below through PayPal.) I am going to try and keep this post going all weekend in hopes that I reach my goal. Please, if you can help it would be amazing, and if you can’t, I understand. I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here it goes!

If you can’t donate please reblog this post or share my GoFundMe link above, it would mean the world to me!

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Always Keep Fighting & Thank You

James

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