Friday, March 18, 2011

More down than up, feeling alone and trying not to isolate

My blog doesn't always speak directly about why it was created... for me to highlight how I live life with a mental or mood disorder. Now I am realizing that anything I write relates to my mental illness because whether it is being managed or medicated, IT is always present. It is wreaking havoc on me today... and yesterday for that matter.

I am starting to see that even though I claim to have lived unmedicated for years, I have in fact still been self medicating during some of those times. Right now I would say I am at the highest risk for relapse... well ever. Relapse on what? Anything. I am miserable. I have been fighting to regulate my mood for some time. I blamed it on quitting drinking. I was started on tramadol for stomach pain and neurontin for nerve pain before I quit drinking. I think that the neurontin actually caused alcohol sensitivity which led to me blacking out quicker and acting belligerent when I was drunk.
That is good because I really do not want to be a drunk like I was. Then I started feeling anxiety and the Dr. I was seeing said the neurontin was an awesome anti-anxiety drug so he upped the dose. Then I hurt my back and have had a lot of narcotic pain meds since then. They helped both my physical and mental pain, but my Dr said I didn't need them. After a back flare up where I could hardly walk, and a trip to the ER, I was told I was flagged for coming to the ER for pain meds.

That made me feel about as big as . <~~~~ that period. I switched Dr's for reasons too long to list here, but I told my new Dr. I want to get better, not just be medicated (for my back pain) and that I wanted to get off the neurontin cause I don't like the anxiety I feel in between doses. I am supposed to be weening off of it and I can't do it... I panic every time I take away a dose. She also upped my tramadol so it would help with my stomach pain (possible hernia still undiagnosed) and my back pain, and it does, but it gives me bad headaches. I can't win for losing. I go to the Er with pain because my (old) Dr. couldnt find out what was wrong or help me. They dont help, they just give me pain meds (temp solution) and then they say Ive been flagged? I don't come looking for pain meds, I come looking to find out what is wrong and try to find a way to get better. I went to physical therapy and wasn't getting better and he sent me back to my Dr.

My Dr. said the only way I am going to get better is by exercizing 2 hours a day every day. huh? I can barely get out of bed! It takes a hot shower and many stretching exercises just to get going! So glad he isnt my Dr. anymore. UHG!

I am tired of trying to self diagnose. I am still afraid of new meds and new side effects, but I know psych meds have come a long way since I was diagnosed. I do know that I am coming down off of a manic high and so I have already began to set up my "going through the motions" activities that get me through. These include: feeding the fish, hamster, turtles, and dog, watering my 3 plants, showering daily, getting out of the house at least once a day, even if it is to take out trash or check mail. My daughter, Victorya, keeps me smiling even through my tears.

I am also having intruding thoughts... extreme worry that someone is going to snatch my (almost) 11 year old on her way to/from school... that if I leave the wood door open (screen still closed), Victorya is going to go out and wander away and be kidnapped... that if I don't pick up my 13 yr old from school he is going to have a panic attack on the bus... that I am not going to be able to get to sleep, that I am not going to want to get out of bed. My head is going a million miles a minute. I actually had to go lay down and cry about 2 paragraphs ago because all the talks of the meds upset me.

Over the next few days, my thoughts will slow down, and my nights of staying up until 2 am and waking up at 5 am with insomnia will fade and I will be tired by 9, want to sleep until noon, and need a nap in the afternoon, but my back won't let me lay down that long. I will spend several hours sleeping in a chair with a pillow wedge to support my back. The depression is the hardest to deal with. I am a bipolar that likes my mania. I am wondering if I should try abilify? Of course I need to see what the side effects are.

Oh, and I need a psych Dr.... I hate Dr. shopping :( I hate trying new meds, but I hate feeling this way.
Writing here, for tonight, has kept me from calling the crisis line. I almost wanted to go for an emergency psych eval, but letting some of those thoughts escape, made me feel better.

Right now, all three of my kids are safe and sound in their beds. I have a shoulder to cry on, even though I think he may have some of his own struggles, he loves me and I love him. I am going to take a trazadone (prescribed for sleep) and just try to bask in what I have to be thankful for right at this moment. Lord knows I need to rest because, yep, I have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

It is also my kids' spring break this week, which makes me feel soooo much better having them close during these uncertain times of mine.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What IS Important?

Life Quote Pictures, Images and Photos

If you have been here before, it is likely that you know that I take very seriously the task of defining myself. I come from a colorful background, one that could have easily painted the picture for my future. If I were to be defined by my past, I doubt there would be an inch of available space on the canvas of my life. I believe that one of my strengths has been the ability to draw on my past, and use the experiences as tools to help create my future.

I struggle with falling into the trap, that my belongings are a representation of my worth. There are some "things" that I am proud of myself for acquiring, but I have learned that even when I am stripped of all my possessions, that I am left with myself. As a person, I have many valuable characteristics. The "things" that I value in myself most, are not the things you can see, but rather feelings and memories, and the ability to share them.

I reject the notion that I am defined by my material possessions. There was a time when that was not the case. There was a time when I was empty on the inside, and the only way I knew how to express myself was through belongings, because they were all I had. I had some things that I had become seriously attached to. One of them was my grandma's wedding ring. Somehow in my mind, I had equated that ring with the whole value of my grandmother. Without having her alive, I believed having her ring was a close second. It wasn't until I pawned her ring, and the pawn shop made a mistake in the paperwork, and mistakenly sold her ring, that I started to become aware that there was more than the material things.

I didn't realize it be choice. I realized it out of necessity, because I had to come to terms with her ring being gone. To be honest, it was almost as painful as actually losing her. Reflecting on that now, I feel sad for the old me. As I sat on the sidewalk in front of the pawnshop and cried, I started remembering all of the times that ring had been significant.

I imagined my grandparent's wedding day. I thought of my grandma's smile. Whenever she got compliment's on it, she would always blush. I remembered being a little girl and begging her to let me wear it and she would tell me it was too big for me and she didn't want to lose it, but she would let me play with it on her finger. I would twist it around and run my fingers across the beautiful diamonds, and imagine my wedding day.

I remembered sitting at her bedside, all the different times we went to see her at the hospital, her ring absent because she was recovering from open heart surgery. I would hold her hand and run my fingers over the spot where it belonged. It was obvious by the skin that had not been touched by the sun. The only time she took it off was for surgery.

I remembered the last time I sat by her bedside, as she was hooked up to so many machine's, struggling to survive following a stroke. She hadn't had surgery and her ring was still on her finger. That was the last time I saw her alive. I remember going up to her casket to say my final goodbye's. My uncle Joe from my grandpa's side walked with me and he helped me lift her cold and stiff hand to remove the rosary we had selected just a week earlier, and her ring.

I also remember the day of my wedding. I was 16 years old, and all of the tension about my young marriage had dissipated. My Grandpa had embraced the idea he once rejected, and he gave me a little yellow envelope. With his cute little sheepish grandpa smile, he urged me to open it. Inside, I found my grandma's ring. It was now to be mine.

Over the years, I never could call it "my ring." It was still my grandma's to me. I stared at the asphalt, my face stung from the drying tears. I had a lot of regret for ever pawning the ring in the first place, but I realized that it wasn't the ring that had the most value. It's value was still it's weight in diamond's and platinum, but worth more than any ring in the world, were my memories. I thought about what my grandma would say if she knew I had lost it. I knew she would be more concerned with making me feel better then she would with the ring. The marriage I had used it for had already failed. Maybe it was time for the ring to go make memories for someone else, but it didn't take my memories with it.

“Like the wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we are, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.” ~ Harlan Ellison


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Need to be Me

My life has been a whirlwind of change in past months. Giving up daily drinking binges was an amazing turning point for me. I had been using the alcohol to express myself. I had to learn who I really was again. I was existing in my emotional sub conscience every day. It took some serious getting used to; to get comfortable being sober was not an overnight feat. I still drink for social occasions. I am not an alcoholic that spirals back into alcohol abuse after one drink. In fact, it only reminds me why I needed to stop, and, well, hangovers suck!

I suffered a lot of insomnia and anxiety about sleep for quite a while. I was used to blacking out and not remembering how I got to bed. I had a lot of amends to make with my 10 year old daughter, who had began resenting me, and fearing our daily trip to the liquor store. I had a lot of guilt for the $300 plus a month we were spending on alcohol. I can't take back the past, but I can appreciate that I pulled myself out and regained my priorities.

We finally got out of the tiny, dark, moldy duplex we were in and moved a block away into a perfect sized house. All of the kiddos have their own rooms, which I painted for them. Destin has a Bob Marley/Rastafarian room. Aliviya has a mix of her favorite color- Lime Green, Purple, and Teal. Victorya has a Lavender Tinkerbell Room. We have a huge sandbox and a garden area. I am going to grow some things this year!

I am growing inside, too. I realized that most of how I defined myself, was really about being a mother, a wife, an aunt, a sister-in-law... but that I hadn't been nurturing myself. I am still learning how. I have so much guilt when I think of myself. I have emotional road blocks in the form of all of the people who have judged me or condemned my actions.

I have been rapid-cycling. For anyone who does not know, I am Bi-polar and unmedicated. I choose to manage my depression and mania rather than medicate, and have been med free for many years. I have not rapid cycled since before my meth addiction and now I am re-evaluating my options for medications. My depressions and manic episodes used to be mild and switched only a couple times a year. They are now changing as often as 2 times a week. I need an adjustment period in order to recognize the change and switch gears, and it is happening so fast that I do not feel very in control anymore. I realize now that I was self medicating with the alcohol and so of course things are different without it.

I am under a new Dr's care and I am being my own self advocate despite my challenges. My back is slowly getting better. I had to switch my whole family to new Primary care, because the care we were getting was horrible.

Destin was hospitalized again for suicidal ideation related to his anxiety. He thought he was better and wanted off his meds. It was a scary lesson, but an important one. He is back on them and just finally stabilizing again. He has not been diagnosed, but I see classic symptoms of Bipolar. He is on abilify for his anxiety, but I do believe it is managing the bipolar symptoms.

We have an amazing in house counseling service and we have 3 different mental health professionals working with our whole family and it is wonderful.

I don't know where I am going with my life, but I am staying in the race and moving forward. I need to be writing again. I need to learn how to express myself without alcohol and get closer to my goal of writing a book. I need to be accountable for me, to me. I am getting past the fears that have prevented me from reaching some of my goals.

I am going back to school in the fall and my baby will be starting preschool! I also learned that my felony will not come up on an FBI background check after 7 years, and that means I can still be a nurse! Being able to use my mistakes and experiences to help others has always been my dream.

Making myself a priority does not come naturally to me, but I am getting better at it, and I am realizing that defining myself allows me to have better relationships. I need to be Me.