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J.R. Buchanan

http://www.buchanan1.net

Me, My Thoughts, and I

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What is bipolar like? Also what's been going on

What's been going on -With a side order of bipolar information

It's been a little while since I've posted something here, so I thought I'd update everyone on what has been happening in my life.

About a month ago I started feeling down. Each day was worse than the one before. Soon I was envying the dead. That's a bad sign for me. I'm not suicidal yet when I get to that point, but unless something happens to stop the depression, I will be soon. Nothing happened to stop the depression. By the weekend, I was thinking about killing myself. I was just starting to think about how I might go about it (but no plans of doing it at some specific time) when something did happen.

I remember it was a Monday when I realized that I wasn't depressed anymore. Then I was again. Then I wasn't. After a day or two of this, I was switching between depression and mania. I'm not an ultraradian cycler, so this meant a mixed state. Manic and depressed at the same time. Oops. Most of the time this happens I wind up in the hospital.

But then something else happened. I realized that I was manic all the time. I'd switched to mania alone. Reprieve! Unless the mania got bad, I was not going to the hospital! It actually got pretty good. All my aches and pains went away. I noticed something I've never noticed before, my physical strength increased. I noticed this while I was moving big bags of water softener salt around. I was picking them up between two fingers and tossing them around like I was 23 again, not 53. All this time, colors got brighter and more beautiful. I could get lost looking at a particular shade of green. Or red. I was happy. At times I was euphoric. Once I was in the hospital with a gentleman with a dual diagnosis. Drug addiction and bipolar. He told me that a euphoric mania was better than a cocaine high. I don't find this hard to believe. People started saying that I was talking too fast. I couldn't help it, that was the speed the thoughts were coming. I was also driving too fast. I found out that our van has a speed limiter at 115mph. Risk taking is a big part of mania. All that aside, my strongest symptom was energy. I was working on projects, writing, cleaning the house, cleaning the garage, often not stopping until well after my muscles and joints were sore. But I hardly noticed. Every time I'd get done with a chore and thought about resting, I thought of "just one more" thing to do, and I did it. Inhibitions go away. I would say anything that came to mind to anyone who would listen. My self confidence was unshakable. It was great!

Of course, manias don't always end well. A strong hypomania like I was having can turn into a full mania and things fall apart. The thoughts still keep coming fast and thick, but they don't make sense anymore. But you don't know that. The people around you most certainly do. By this time, the thoughts are coming so fast that you don't have any time to examine them. You just can't think that fast, but you are. It's frustrating. And all the people around you are moving, talking, thinking so slow. It's like their brains are mired in molasses. You start getting irritable and snap at the slow people around you. At this point I've started hallucinating in the past. Some pretty scary visual hallucinations. Some strange religious delusions as well.

A crash into depression can also happen. The deepest despair you can imagine, and for a lot longer than the week I'd recently had. A feeling of uselessness and hopelessness. And the certainty that it was all true, normal, and there would be no end this time. Death is not really all that desirable, but an escape of any sort is. Even if death is a side effect. Irritation can also be a part of this. Although it hasn't happened to me, hallucinations and delusions can also accompany a deep depression.

But those things didn't happen this time.

My wife also has bipolar. She is also very perceptive and knew exactly what was happening. She got me to a psychiatrist to do something about the mania. Unfortunately the nurse practitioner who I usually see for meds was not available. The temporary psychiatrist made some med changes I don't like, reversing some of what we'd been doing. Now I'm so sleepy I can hardly stay awake at times, I'm gaining weight, and my blood sugar has gone up. And it looks like the nurse practitioner I usually see is decreasing her hours, and the rumor is that she's moving to another facility. Not good. They want to make the temporary psychiatrist my regular psychiatrist. Not good. This man was also extremely rude to my wife when she saw him the day after I saw him. More on that in a minute...

What did happen was anxiety. As well as bipolar I have GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, another anxiety disorder. Yay!

Here's where I do a brain dump (rant!) of the things that are stressing me. As if I needed stressors in this state. Here goes, in no particular order, surely leaving things out: My diabetes has gotten worse, they've had to put me on insulin. It's horribly inconvenient, and has caused weight gain. I'd been losing weight (in addition to the weight gain from the antipsychotic). Now I'm eating less and gaining. I can't test my blood sugar because I have no test strips. I've been bugging the Dr. to call them in and so has the pharmacy. Zip. I have no idea what my blood sugar is. My wallet disappeared, along with all the cards in it. Debit cards, insurance cards for me and my daughters, school ID, driver's license, etc. It was on my desk one night, the next morning it was gone. We've torn the house apart looking for it, now we're canceling the cards and getting replacements. Very inconvenient. Our van has been broken for several weeks. Right now it's waiting on a part from Chrysler. I worry that we won't be able to afford the parts or labor, as it looks like it's going to be more expensive than the original $220 estimate. They are concerned that more damage was done before we noticed and pulled into a parking lot. More $. I worry about the state of the house. I keep cleaning, but within 12 hours it becomes a horrible mess. I keep getting the girls to start cleaning, but they usually barely do the job, or say that they are starting, then never do. Very passive aggressive. It's wearing me down, and causing me to sporadically do all the cleaning in a fit of irritation. A half a day later, and messy again. I feel that this means I'm a bad parent for not getting any respect, but it's just wearing me down. I stopped in the middle of this paragraph to clean the kitchen while they argued about whose turn it was to do what. My wife says that this is not something to worry about, but it's GAD, a mental illness. I know most of this stuff shouldn't be worrying me like it does. The same psychiatrist that messed up my meds also saw my wife. They're trying to move her over to him as well. The day after I saw him, she did. We were both at each other's sessions, at mine he treated me politely, at hers he was very rude. This makes them trying to move us to him very unpleasant. Lots of stress. I'm having a lot of anxiety driving. Why I don't know, I used to find it relaxing. I went two weeks without a driver's license. I got a ticket last November, my first in 26 years, and they sent me several letters telling me to take a defensive driving class. The letters didn't make it, as they sent it to my street address instead of my P.O. box. I think we have that straightened out, but in the meantime I got a warning for a very minor speeding offense. The cop was nice, but he had to give me a ticket for driving while suspended. Now I have to go before a judge, where the penalty for driving while suspended is a 90 day suspension. I've been told that the judge can waive that if he/she likes me. I hope so, going two weeks without a drivers license because I couldn't pay for the class and replacement fee for the missing license until I got a check was bad. Very, very inconvenient. Then the class. It was online, 10 lessons that were supposed to each take 24 minutes, for a total of 4 hours. Each section took an average of 60 minutes, for 10 grueling hours in front of the computer. Speaking of that, I seem to have develop an RSI that numbs my small fingers of the left hand. I have to make a Dr. appointment. The Internet and my sister diagnose it as cubital tunnel syndrome. I'm taking courses for a degree in medical assisting. I'll have all but one of my 100 level classes done at the end of this semester, then I'll only need one more 100 level class to move on. They didn't offer it this semester and don't in the spring semester. It's going to take forever to graduate. Maybe I can get an adviser to approve some 200 level classes in the spring, the automated system won't let me. I'd better hurry on that. Today in class our new instructor told me that she had graduated from my (well respected and accredited) college 3 years ago and hasn't found anyone willing to hire her within a 50 mile radius. Now she's teaching medical assisting instead of doing it. She says all the jobs are going to the flood of graduates from the new 9 month "medical training" facility that opened up here a few years ago. Very stressing. Am I wasting my time in school? I'm worried about my wife's vision. A couple months ago she had a freak accident and lost the sight in her left eye. They said she'd never regain it. That stresses me a lot, although now they've decided there's a slight chance of regaining her sight in that eye with surgery. Poor to fair prognosis, it worries me that the surgery might not work. Our two high school students are both being bullied in school. The school, to their credit, is working on this, even filing criminal charges against one of the bullies. That's not helping though, it still keeps happening. As I mentioned above, my psych meds are messed up, and are making my diabetes and weight gain worse. They're phasing out the nurse practitioner who was prescribing my meds, and who was titrating me off the med that's causing trouble, and soon adding a replacement. The temporary psychiatrist raised my dose to the maximum, which is making me very sleepy, and causing those other problems to get worse. I'm just going to have to switch providers. The other facility in town has no psychiatrists at the moment (how in the hell did that happen?), they hope they'll have one soon. Useless to me. The next most likely is down in Indianapolis, about an hours drive. Very inconvenient, but it looks like it's what I'll have to live with. The water heater is leaking. It keeps getting worse. Of course the smart thing to do would be to have it replaced before it bursts open and floods the garage. Of course we don't have any money for that, so we have to wait and pray. That's stressful. My truck is starting to make two alarming noises, we can't afford to do the possibly needed work, even if I do the labor myself. I used to do a lot of automotive work, but anymore I find it too anxiety-provoking. But I might have to. I've been having alarming chest pains and difficulty breathing. I've been to the ER twice, once they checked me in and kept me 24 hours. It's nice to know this is not a heart condition, but what is it? A Dr. I saw said he thinks it's a hiatal hernia. I've looked that up and it matches those symptoms, and the lump in my throat and GERD I've been having as well. I'm supposed to see a specialist, but I've been having trouble getting in. I have generalized anxiety disorder, I tend to worry and stress anyway, but this is getting ridiculous. I'm pretty sure I left some things out.

Now some good news.

Heather's adoption went through. She's been living with us for about a year, in foster care. Her adoption was finalized on October 12th, 2015. We're all quite happy and proud.

This one is sort of mixed -Our daughter Vera, who is currently not living with us got a new kitten. Her name is Hallo, and she's a very fluffy calico. Of course, she's staying at our house. She's adorable, but we already had enough animals!

Vera will be moving back in with us in about 3 weeks! We're all excited!

What is going on in your life? What is bipolar like for you? Let us all know in the comments!

As usual, I'll post future updates to my Facebook and Twitter pages. Feel free to follow or friend or message me.


mental illness, mental health, bipolar, anxiety

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