Need Help? Go On and Ask for It

Mental illness sucks.

That’s the summation of my thoughts, usually after a depressive spiral. It’s what I think when a good friend loses a job because of a schizophrenic episode. It’s my answer when another friend hits the low part of his bipolar cycle. It’s the phrase I mutter in response to people’s suicidal thoughts, lack of desire to do anything, or expressions of overall sadness.

Not only do we all experience the side effects of our mental issues, we also get no support whatsoever from our own minds. When enveloped in the venom of negative thoughts that mental illness supplies, we hear things like:

You’re a terrible person …with specific reasons.

No one likes you …complete with names.

Whatever you try fails …including examples.

No one can help you. No one wants to help you.

All of these Wormtongue-spoken messages are not true. In fact, the last one is the most not-true. There are plenty of people who can help. Heck; there are strange people who voluntarily went to school and paid a lot of money in order to listen to others’ mental health problems all day.

Weirdos.

I speak of counselors or therapists. I speak of psychologists. To some extent, I speak of psychiatrists as well. They have all chosen a career, voluntarily, to listen to crazy people like you and me.

Uh-oh: negative-thought brain is talking again:

They don’t really want to help you. They’re just doing it for their job …with examples of friends or relatives who’ve complained about a bad experience.

It’s impossible to find one who’ll be good …with reasons why your issues are a special case.

You can’t afford a counselor …with a list of your expenses.

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Guess what, brain! They really do want to help you. Granted, there must be therapists who are terrible. There must be some who are in it for the money. If you ask around and/or read online reviews, however, you’re likely to weed out the bad ones. After all, these weirdos did choose their job. In my experience, they did so because they wanted to help people.

Plus, the costs might be manageable. Depending on where you live, some of those strange people who can and want to help are cheap or free. Some are covered by job insurance plans, others by government programs, and still others by ecclesiastical assistance.

Don’t be afraid to ask around, get a good listening ear, and get going on your life!

You are important. You are worth any cost.

I promise.

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Photo Credit: Pexels
Matheus Ferrero
Dan Meyers

I’m Okay. Why Do I Still Seek Therapy?

I can go into public places without fearing something will happen to my children or me. This is tremendous progress. Yesterday I went into a clothing store alone.

I thought about leaving when the checkout line was long, but I was determined to stay and see the process through. Lines make me feel trapped, though it’s gotten better, the feeling is still there. Instead of leaving, I circled the store and waited for the line to go down. I had a goal and goddammit I was going to stick with it. I didn’t turn away from the end result, which was to buy what I had in my hand: four shirts and one pair of shorts.

My head didn’t rush, my heart didn’t beat out of my chest, my vision stayed normal, the panic stayed away. A year ago, I never would have been able to do this. And there were times I didn’t think I would ever be able to. Strings attached to me everywhere, by personal choice. This day, however, I was fine.

In fact, I’d had a lot of fine days. It had been going so well that I considered stopping my therapy sessions altogether. Isn’t that what we do though? Once we feel good, we back off of what’s been supporting us. I think it’s human nature to do so, sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

When I left my therapist and told I’d let her know in a month if I needed to come back, I thought I’d walk away for good. Then thirty days slid by painfully slow. I missed my chance to vent and let my words fly without shame.

Sometimes big news came from small conversations. A day I had nothing to discuss would lead to a significant discovery. The chance for this would be gone if I didn’t continue.

I went back after thirty days, and I told her I missed coming here, so we agreed to every 3-4 weeks depending on my schedule. I’ve held this now for a few months and here’s what I’ve learned.

  • I have new goals to push toward.
  • I can truly recognize how far I’ve come and the life I’ve taken back.
  • There’s a comfort to having a familiar, someone I know will listen.
  • It has given me a chance to explore areas I didn’t realize needed attention.

street-art-2044085_640.jpgTherapy is one of the things that I have done to regain my life. I am stronger now, I’m not sure I’ll ever be “healed,” but I can do almost everything I used to before anxiety crippled my life.

Sometimes I hear people smugly suggest that therapy isn’t working if you have to keep going. Well, who are they to tout about something they don’t understand. I’m not doing myself any harm by continuing, in fact, it pushes me to take control and prepare myself for harder days that are unquestionably in my future. Life can’t be full of rainbows and sunshine all the time.

Therapy has been one of the many factors I use to battle/overcome/work with anxiety. It took several tries to find a therapist I trust, so if you find one that’s not fitting you, don’t be scared to try again. For me, it has worked to have continual checkups. I have no plan on stopping, even if I decide to decrease to once every other month, a therapist on hand provides me with the outlet I need.

 

Melisa Peterson Lewis is a lifestyle blogger at Fingers to Sky where she writes about her personal wellbeing, gardening, and her writing process as she tackles her first sci-fi novel. Check her out on Instagram or Facebook.

Images from Pixabay.

Always keep fighting!

Partial Hospitalization Program and IOP

I wrote a blog post a few months ago detailing my experience with modern day mental health hospitalization. You can read it here. It was a nightmare experience that exposed the glaring holes in America’s mental health care.

Since then, I’ve enrolled in an intensive therapy program. They call it a Partial Hospitalization Program, but that’s just the insurance code used. It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’m not hospitalized, I’m not locked in a facility. Basically, I go to intensive group therapy everyday of the week from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

Then there is a step down program called Intensive Outpatient Program. Which is, essentially, going to therapy 3-4 days a week from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM. The difference between PHP and IOP is that PHP is to figure out the causes of thought distortions and to integrate with the the skills taught in the program. It can last from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.

IOP is practicing the skills learned and getting stable on medications. IOP is still intensive, but is a step down from PHP. Usually IOP lasts for a month or two. But it can end sooner.

At the facility where I’m at, I’m free to leave if I want, but I’ve found I don’t want to. Normally I shy away from group therapy. I don’t like interacting with others and never feel a connection with the other patients. But this time, it’s different.

I’ve fully committed to my treatment plan. I’ve fully committed to getting better. And that means going to group therapy and interacting with others facing the same issues I am.

I have to admit, my first week, I wanted to just go home. I was withdrawing, existing in my head through most group therapies. I retreated into my intellect. Each day we check in with a mood rating, the emotions we’re feeling, struggles we’re having, and topics we’d like to discuss. Then we move into mindfulness exercises. And this is where my intellect collided with the therapy.

I always found mindfulness new age hokum. It’s taking Eastern meditation and reinterpreting it as some psychological self-help crap. I always resisted it.

Until now.

After two months of intense therapy, sometimes not wanting to go in at all, wanting to isolate, but making myself to go in to therapy I can say this program saved my life.

I was at the bottom of a deep, dark depression. I was isolating and abusing substances. Thanks to Compass, I learned the skills I needed to work my way into a functional life. They didn’t fix me, but they gave me the skills and methods to start making things better.

They helped me find a great outside therapist (my current one being useless), worked with my psychiatrist on getting on the right medications and regime, and things actually look hopeful for once.

I have to say, if you are struggling, if you are hopeless, and you are scared of inpatient hospitals, please, please, please look into a Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program. Don’t let the names scare you. There is no hospital, you are free to come and go as you please.

But these people are professionals and truly care on you getting better. They know how to get things started and get you help. They will not treat you like scum or something unworthy of help. They truly care.

They saved my life. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or fears. I’ve been through it all. And I’m now better for it.

photo Credit: unsplash-logoMartha Dominguez de Gouveia

Speak Up! And Your Voice Will Help You

Sometimes I wonder what world optimists live in. It can’t possibly be the same as mine, because mine is one of twisting mists, overcast skies, and lurking shadows.

Besides the possibility of parallel universes, this phenomenon is likely a matter of perspective.

What is perspective?

Duh; it’s how you see everything. And, I mean everything. In fact, perspective is how you see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and sensedeadpeople everything. It’s like eyeglasses you wear on all your senses.

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Now, I know you’re a smart cookie who already knew all that. But, did you think about how perspective applies to mental health? Specifically, did you think that this means other people will have no clue how to relate to what you are sensing all the time?

While you are lying in bed, certain that nothing will ever change and that people are crap, someone else is skipping around and wondering how to spend such a glorious day. That person may even be in your house and driving you crazy with the skipping.

I know. I’m married to a skipper.

I often resort to sticking a leg out as he passes -but, my counselor suggests I ought to engage in fewer sabotaging behaviors like that.

What I and you really need is for others to understand what we are going through. We want them to help us because we often can’t help ourselves. We want acceptance and love. We also don’t always know what we want besides to just feel better.

This is where perspective comes in.

Many, many posts here at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog of Amazing Stories and Poems and Posts and Mental Health Issues and Such If You’re Still Reading This Title I’m Amazed deal with the perspective of mental illness sufferers. I’ve learned a lot, and consider myself part of this little group -though from a safe distance because I also have social anxiety.

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These stories help others to understand. But, they are only the first step.

For other people to get us the help we need, we need to walk at least one more pace. Now, don’t get stressed and close this article and go binge on chocolate. I’m always about keeping things doable. My steps are always baby steps.

All I’m saying is that, after you share your perspective, you need to ask for the help you need.

Not sure what I mean? I wasn’t, either, till recently.

I began counseling just over a year ago from a very dark, confused place. I hadn’t even found this lovely blog. No one seemed to relate to my anxiety or concerns or negative self-talk. If anyone talked to me about my issues, they handed out aphorisms like useless bits of random jigsaw puzzles.

Fast-forward to a lot of sessions (and money) later, and I had an epiphany. (That means an inspirational thought. Look how much I’m teaching you today!)

I had been attending counseling sessions, waiting for her to know exactly what to do based on the few answers I’d given to questions. I expected that she felt my anxious hesitancy about groups, that she was always looking at the glass half-empty, and that she also saw life as an endless drag of sameness.

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Nope, she didn’t.

Apparently, she skips, too -though, less than my husband. And I needed to tell her what I was sensing.

“I need you to give me exact phrases I can say when I feel that way,” I finally admitted.

Or, “Today, I need to talk about how to talk myself out of a depressive cycle before I spiral and don’t want to even get up.”

Or, even, “Can you please explain what you meant by that term?”

Thing is, the counselor has a different perspective. She has hers. You have yours. That random guy walking past has his. That woman over there has hers as well.

In regards to mental health professionals, we need to approach sessions the way we would a regular doctor visit. If you were at the doctor’s office, the dialogue might run as follows:

What are you seeing the doctor for today?

-Oh, you know; I was walking up the stairs and stubbed my toe really hard. I think it’s broken.

Applied to our mental health, the dialogue would go like this:

And how are we feeling today?

-Oh, today I woke up feeling like even the sun hated me and I had a major panic attack at the thought of riding the bus.

As my husband says, we’re paying the counselor to fix the problems. It’s her job.

If you are smarter than a random blog-writer like me, you may already be past the step of telling your mental health professional what you need. So, smarty-pants, have you gone on to apply this to talking with your partner? Close friend? Mother? Busybody neighbor?

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Don’t go crazy -crazier– admitting all your problems to strangers. Let me tell you: one Facebook post can alienate your neighbors. I am, however, advocating appropriate responses that help friends or nagging neighbors to give you the breathing room and support you might need.

If you’re feeling a bit down and think no one loves you, try texting a friend and telling him or her that you need to feel better. It might be a good night for movies.

If you think you could just use a good laugh, call someone who tells jokes.

If you’re feeling too much pressure from demands, ask if you can’t have a few things due at a later period.

When I attended a local mom’s group we talked about the Audacious Ask. The idea was that we needn’t be afraid to ask other people for help. We were challenged to ask a friend or neighbor for something we needed for us, even if we were stressed that they wouldn’t want to.

My counselor agrees that we all have different perspectives. She also says mine can be tweaked a bit up the positivity scale, but that’s a topic for another post.

In the meantime, I challenge you to use your new power of perspective to ask for what you need.

Don’t be afraid. If your friend came to you, wouldn’t you want to help?

Photo credits:

Josh Calabrese
Kyle Broad
Bryan Minear
Bewakoof.com Official

A Bipolar Writer Guest Blog Spot

I have the honor today of sharing another guest blog post here on The Bipolar Writer blog. The bloggers name is Laila Resende and she is sharing a story here on my blog.

You can find her blog and her work here: thoughtinventory.home.blog/

HOW MY MOTHER’S DEPRESSION TAUGHT ME ABOUT ACCEPTANCE

Growing up, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of mental illness. I would always spot my mother crying “for no reason,” or see a fair bit of pills on the kitchen counter and brush those off as natural occurrences. After all, if it happened on a daily basis, it should be normal.

As a child, I remember being my mother’s shadow – that’s what she used to call me. Often, I would cry myself to sleep at the thought of losing her. She used to be my refuge, her legs a hiding spot from strangers.

I was an introspective little girl with a lot of insecurities. Unbeknown to me, I was looking up to an adult who had just as many, only hers were more mature than mine.

Inevitably, I ended up developing a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) at 14 years old.

Before getting diagnosed, the excuse to my groundless fears would always refer to laziness or irresponsibility by those who had never suffered from anything similar. All labels were unrelated to an actual problem. And they all were my fault, apparently.

That, among other things, was what made it so hard for me to accept that I had the disorder. However, the biggest contributor was my background.

I come from a family that’s pretty acquainted with mental issues if you will. I have a depressive mother, a bipolar cousin, an agoraphobic sister, an anxious health aunt, and a brother with ADD. There are more members, of course, some whose conditions I’m unaware of.

I used to be mad at them, mad at the fact that I didn’t choose how and where I would be born and that I had to bear their weight on my back throughout my entire life, even though I didn’t want to. All I wanted was to have a normal family.

Still, I can recall one particular attack that made me forget about feeling like I didn’t belong for a while. Seeing that the condition was more serious than I had expected, I was determined to find treatment, even if reluctantly.

My mother stood by me all the way, from scheduling therapy appointments to psychiatrist visits, to combine counseling with medication as an efficient recovery method. And I trusted her, considering she has been through her fair share of hard times and survived them all.

A LOOK INTO MY MOTHER’S STORY

My mom lugs a lonely and tumultuous past.

Raised by an alcoholic father, a busy depressive mother and having to witness frequent money-related fights between them, she had only her two sisters to turn to in moments of hardship. However, they too bore their own personal issues they would rather not share with one another. It was pretty much each to their own at that stage.

In her late 20s, her marriage to my father has always been bound for disaster due to their divergences.

Dad was raised in a strict Catholic family, whereas mom was an avid reader of Allan Kardec’s works. Her late-night visits to her spiritist center of choice brought him a lot of suspicions, which in turn generated Homeric fights at home. As a result, she was separated from her faith in exchange for a pseudo-healthy relationship.

The previously mentioned events have undoubtedly contributed to the early outset of a depressive disorder. The recurrence of those rendered her incapable of dealing with the mounting tension on her own, thus causing her to resort to a dangerous combination: alcohol and medication abuse.

As any other substance abuser who’s deep into their addiction, my mother wasn’t acceptant of her situation. Admitting that there was, in fact, a problem present, was too much for her at that point. She wanted to feel normal by avoiding it, which made the consequences harmful.

In one particular night of heavy drinking, my mother collapsed and convulsed. She was immediately sent to a hospital.

The next morning, she realized the immensity of what she went through. Thereby, by her own desire, she decided she wanted to get treatment in a mental health institution.

One huge, life-threatening breakdown was the price paid for a mother to yield to her pride. Had she acquiesced to it earlier, she’d have saved herself a lot of trouble.

See, some people shove real problems aside on account of their – and others’— misconceptions about mental health.  They wait for a major disaster to take place to finally pay heed to what that illness has to present to them. I, for instance, waited for an overdue panic attack before seeking help to address an actual problem.

Whatever the mental issue is, it isn’t any less worthy of concern than a physical problem. In fact, they may even manifest physically as a result of negligence, like the time I developed psoriasis due to extreme stress.

If people took their time to search deep into their troubles, they would notice the mind might be responsible for more than they could imagine.  

THINGS TOOK A TURN

My mother hasn’t been the same after leaving that mental hospital.

The meds the doctors put her on are supposed to “rewire” her brain chemistry. For that reason, she has become laconic, doesn’t have the same old sense of humor and needs help remembering things. The person she used to be is long gone. It’s been well past 6 months, and I wish I knew how much longer this will last.

In a way, my fear of losing her came true.

It feels as though we’ve switched roles, though. She is now the little girl who hides from the world, who needs company to go to the most ordinary of places. Whenever that happens, I grow into the version of myself who does her best to quiet the anxiety down for a moment and takes care of her, just like she looked after me when I was a kid.

She’s getting used to being herself again, while I’m getting used to exploring a part of myself that is stronger than any type of anxiety.

Could I have avoided the current state of things if I had been born someway or somewhere else? Of course. But I’ve also learned that I’m fine just the way I am.

By

Laila Resende

Retrospective

There are times I find that it’s hard for me to accept how things have turned out in life, being 27 and unable to work due to chronic illnesses such as scoliosis and rheumatoid arthritis, to keep it short, has had a huge impact on who I am as a person. This definitely isn’t the life I envisioned for myself, and sometimes, like most, I feel a little sorry for myself. Before my disabilities took hold, before my daughter, my husband and I were in a relatively successful local band, and before becoming a mother, music was the only thing in life that I always knew was meant to be.

Once you’ve been within reach of your dreams and gotten a taste of what that feels like, it’s incredibly difficult when lost. At one point, I actually allowed myself to believe that all my wildest dreams could come true, that I would get every little thing I deserved for putting everything I have into being the best person that I can be. Once those thoughts take hold, everything else goes unnoticed, including the first signs that what you thought was wild success, may in fact turn into a complete and utter failure of a situation.

It took years for me to get the courage to perform on stage as a lead singer, I mean after all, my only experience had been singing in choir, and singing in the car and shower. But once I let myself show the world my talent, I never wanted it to stop – I wanted to show everyone, not just those who doubted me or worked against me, but to show people who struggle to find the self-esteem and strength to follow their dreams that it could be done, by a nobody nonetheless.

While the band has been dead for a few years now, I still haven’t finished grieving, and while I haven’t completely given up on the dream, the more time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to manifest any sort of true motivation to pursue it anymore. As sad as that is, it’s a product of my ever persistent lack of confidence, despite the fact that I proved to myself that I’m definitely not lacking the talent to make it happen. Instead, I hate my body and pity myself and find it hard to open up about it, but it’s not something that anyone I know can truly understand.

I never knew until recently just how detrimental a role physical pain can play on your mental state, but it has eaten away so much from who I am, who I know I’m meant to be, and everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, that I completely resent myself and feel weakened not only physically, but spiritually as well. To some people, hobbies are silly and insignificant, and while music has always been so much more than that, I’ve got to allow this transition to take place and find some way to feed my creativity without relishing in the fact that I’ll may not ever be able to share it with the world in the way I always dreamed.

I’m not giving up, but it’s time to switch gears.

What I Have Given up to Social Anxiety

The last two years have been hard as social anxiety has taken focus in my life. I have lost so much of myself. Who I was, and what in my mind was always the things that make me– well James. Today I want to try and list just a few things that have changed over the course of my increase in social anxiety.

  • Driving – I used to take long trips all the time. I love taking a drive anywhere, just picking a city and driving there without pause. Now, I barely leave my town because its tough to sit behind the wheel without my anxiety spiraling. It’s been one of the hardest adjustments in my life because driving was an escape.
  • Going to the Movies – It has been well over two years since the last time that I went to the movies. The last time I had to leave the theater halfway through the film because of a panic attack. In the times leading up to that event, I would always be so anxious during a movie the enjoyment is horrible. This also goes for concerts which I used to love to go to– it has been so long since I saw my favorite bands play.
  • Canceling Plans – This is the hardest thing that still gets to me the most. I hate canceling plans. It’s the worst. People, friends, and family can only go so far before they start not planning things with you. It’s got to that point where my friends know not to make plans because it’s not worth the effort.

I am sure there is more things that I am missing and things that have gone by the wayside with my social anxiety.

I am curious, what are the things that my readers and followers have lost due to social anxiety. I challenge not only myself but my fellow bloggers to challenge the things that social anxiety has taken away from you. I am going to face these things this summer.

Always keep fighting.

James

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoMansoor

Stabilizing

It has been a little shy of two weeks since beginning my mood stabilizer. To add this and wean off of Buspirone has been nothing short of the rollercoaster I imagined and then some. Between feelings of anger for things out of my control, to becoming used to feeling a drive to get up through depressive episodes, it has been an interesting process to say the least.

If you remember from my last post, Stabilize, you may remember me discussing the side effects including dizziness and lethargy. I am very happy to report that those side effects did in fact make their way out of my life. I am currently taking fifty milligrams of Topiramate daily along with my Lexapro and Welbutrin and although I have said this in the past, I feel as though this must be how it feels to be “normal”. However normality is very similar to beauty: it is in the eye of the beholder. No matter who you are or what your mental state is, you will always have good and bad days. The difference in my opinion is when your days control your life to the point that you can’t actually live in the way you are supposed to.

I have noticed that small remarks or comments that used to ruin my entire day do not seem to dictate my mood anymore. I continue to deal with frustration, but it does not stop me from finishing tasks. Every day it becomes easier to wake up and get dressed. Every day it becomes easier to prioritize. Every day is not perfect by any means, but it is one step closer to a better version of myself. There are also several things I have learned about controlling my surroundings to maintain a stable mood.

I am in no way monetized, so this is not a plug but just simply the streaming service I use. I decided to try something different and searched for relaxing music on Pandora. As it turns out, there is a wide variety of genres from nature sounds, to spa music, to classical music, and many more all within their own station. I am usually the most stressed when I am work, so I turned it on and it made a huge difference in my day! I felt level-headed and remained calm in situations that would have normally sent me spiraling. After trying this, I highly recommend it to anyone trying to remain calm or combat anxiety, depression, or anger. Even if you are younger, you may be able to find relaxing EDM online by groups like ODEZA or Lindsey Stirling.

This is a fairly short post, but this is all tied together as I am: a work in progress. I honestly thought that the dizziness was going to get the best of me while stabilizing, but in the end it seems to have proven to be well worth the struggle. As the weeks go on I will continue to write about this experience as well as others, engage with you over various topics to reach out to the mental health community and gather your opinions on things, and work on some poetry between both blogs as well. Thank you so much for your time and please take time to take care of yourself today!

Asking: Is Medication the Answer?

Anxiety creeps in and doesn’t whisper sweet nothings into my ear. It screams at me, “You are weak! No way in hell can you do this! Quit! Go hide!” I shake my head, trying to relieve my brain from this damaging downward spiral. It’s no use, it won’t stop.

While I have made a lot of progress, I still feel as though there are things I should have overcome at this point in therapy. For years I have avoided medication. There are a lot of reasons for this, but mainly I think it’s because I’m scared. Sometimes I wonder if taking a pill would really calm the angry voices inside, the self-doubts, the mountain of fears. Is it really that simple? A daily regimen of drugs, foreign toxins introduced to our blood, recreating and shifting our brain chemistry. Would it leave me the same person I am, but a better version of myself? It’s so hard to believe it’s that simple.

Also, weight gain terrifies me. That is probably a stupid reason to avoid helpful medication, but it is the truth, please don’t shame me for speaking my truth.

With several friends openly taking medication I wonder if they are better off than I am. I want to break free from the cycles of self-doubt and fear. I feel like I’m on this plateau, stuck on progress. I had one goal, to be able to go into a store and walk through the check outline by myself. I have done this here and there. Though the anxiety that creeps in every time I consider doing this is haunting. So much so that I still avoid doing this whenever I can.

This is classic avoidance, I know this. I should care more, create a goal, but I don’t want to. The motivation to face my fears is strongly lacking. Would medication change this also? Maybe I would suddenly feel like joining a running team and volunteering at my son’s school. Hmmm, probably not. I have to fly out of state twice in the upcoming months. While flying has never been a trigger for me, there are a lot of triggers in an airport. All the LINES that don’t move!!! No way out!!! Oh my god, I am sweating just by typing that!

I have a prescription of Lexapro in my nightstand drawer, from over a year ago, that I never took.

This post is more of a question to followers of The Bipolar Writer. If you can share your story with medication, I am all ears and very grateful. I will never pass judgement on those taking or not taking medication. Shame free zone here!

Brought to you by Fingers to Sky

 

Stabilize

I sat in the waiting room clutching papers in my hand. For two weeks I had prepared to tell my doctor that I finally began seeing a therapist and that the diagnosis from her standpoint was leaning towards bipolar disorder. Awkwardly I gathered my things together once my name was called and followed the nurse for blood pressure and weight checks. Weighing in at 210 pounds threw me off guard at first, but I suppose that’s what happens when you stop drinking every day.

The nurse handed me the same GAD checklist that gets filled out each visit. I hadn’t seen my doctor in a little over a month so my numbers were up higher than in previous visits. As I would fill out “More than half the days”, I could feel that I was getting beside myself again. I should’ve been better than this. I should’ve been normal.

The doctor came in the room almost as quickly as the nurse left it. Before I could even allow the “hello” to escape her lips, the paperwork was extended in her direction and I told her I had gone to a therapist. “We think I may have bipolar disorder. I’m not throwing chairs or anything like that but after reading off the symptoms, a lot of things make a lot of sense. The high sex drive, the huge interest in hobbies only to drop them within a week or so, the days of not being able to make myself get off of the couch, my lack of focus and excess of indecision, it’s all here and then some.”, I said while pointing at the bipolar information sheet.

“Well I had my suspicions, but getting a second opinion from a therapist definitely solidifies a treatment option. Let’s try weaning off of one of your antidepressants and adding a mood stabilizer.”, she said.

I want to be clear by saying that I’m not glad that I am on another medication, but I am glad that I may be one step closer to finding a way to live life without my life getting in the way of… Well… My life. The problem I have with my mental health is that I wake up with either no motivation to get anything done, or so much motivation that I run errands and still not get anything done. I can have a great day until a derogatory comment is made to either me or a friend, and it sends my mood into a sullen, sarcastic, and depressing cloud for either hours or the rest of the day. I feel as though I have never had any control over my sensitivity or emotions, even as a child.

It has been four days since I have begun the process to stabilize. The new medicine I am trying is called Topiramate and if it’s anything like my Lexapro, it probably is something that will take time for my body to chemically register before a difference is noticed. Honestly, the biggest side effects I feel today are lethargy and extreme dizziness. It is as if I have hit the bottle hard enough to have woken up drunk and held onto it. This medicine is also used to treat seizures as well as migraines, so I feel that it plays with a different part of the mind than I am used to, so hopefully a change will come soon. According to other articles, it takes around five to six days for the side effects to dissipate.

This is only the beginning of this journey, and I write to keep you in the loop about this process in case any of you ever go through the same thing. If you feel as though you need help with mental health please reach out to someone. You are never alone. I am available for contact via social media if anyone ever needs an ear to listen. You can find my contact information as well as my other blog posts at www.outtodry.blog.

Take care everyone!