Things That Suck

I just got the information on our new medical plan at work.  The “low deductible” options has a $3000 deductible.  $3000!!  That’s ridiculous!  It covers 100% of well visits to primary care so it’s supposed to be cheaper for most people, but for me…well, I’m screwed.  I see my therapist twice a month and my doctor at least once every three months, more if I’m having issues.  I go to the ER sometimes in really bad situations, which will now only be covered at 80%.  To top it off, neither of my crazy doctors will be in network, so even after the insane deductible is met they will only cover 60% of the cost.  WTF am I gonna do?  My medical costs are already astronomical.  I really can’t afford another huge hit to my wallet just because I’m ill.  Then I have my son’s medical care to worry about as well.  He takes a few trips to the ER each year for serious illness etc.  I have a health spending account, but that won’t really help.  I put in $2400 this year and was out of money in less than six months.  I can’t even deal with this right now.

Onto relationship issues.  Today is the day that my husband and I send each other weekly emails.  This was a suggestion of my therapist after the Craigslist fall out.  We decided that since he was obviously more comfortable sending emails than actually coming to me saying there was a problem that we would try to fix our communication problems via email.  So now once a week we write to each other saying how we feel, how the other did that week, and what could have been improved.  So far it’s working okay, but my husband’s emails are always just a few sentences while mine are like a book so I get a little frustrated.  The ultimate goal is to make it a habit of being open about our feelings and discovering problems in a timely fashion so they don’t spiral out of control like they have in the past.  I’m hoping that even if it’s not Thursday that if there is a mjor problem we will email each other to disucss it.  This also helps because you can’t really yell or walk out one someone via email so it keeps tensions lower.  Plus you generally think before you type but not so much before you speak, so it makes you say less hurtful things.  That’s the intention anyhow.  We’ll see how it works long term.

I’m not sure exactly what I want to say this week.  Things have been good between us, but I’m still feeling mildly depressed.  I feel generally crappy and like my life blows.  I’m not wallowing in it too much.  I’m getting on with my days.  But around 3:00 I exhaust out and can’t do much of anything until around 6:00 when I get a second wind (usually thanks to my new second dose of Adderall).  I’m stressed that even though things are okay now that we’ll just get back in our regular pattern of fighting and misery.  I love my husband dearly and wouldn’t want anyone else, but we both have short fuses and don’t bend so easily and it makes for explosive situations sometimes.  I hope we can work through these things and have a lasting, somewhat healthy relationship.

I guess I’m depressed because I remember when we first got together and never fought.  I remember how nice it was to feel loved and wanted.  I remember nighst up late talking to talk.  Then I see us barely speaking in our bad times and fighting in our worst times.  But then we have upswings and things are great and we talk all night again and love each other.  My marriage is like my mood – great or awful with hardly any in between.  Is it my lot in life to have only extremes?  Can I not have a middle ground in any aspect of my crazy life?


Back From a Break

So I haven’t posted in a long time. I didn’t die or anything. I guess I just felt like I was spending too much time living in my illness and I needed a break from it. I needed some time to enjoy the fact that my meds were working and to just enjoy feeling somewhat normal. Then I thought that I wasn’t keeping up with my mood as well as I should be and was getting out of touch with myself, so I decided maybe I needed to come back to doing this as a journal.

I’ve been really busy lately. I decided to go back to school to further my career a bit. I’m on my second semester and things are going well. I’m sure that a full time job, full time school, and parenthood is probably more than what I should be taking on, but things have to get done in spite of my illness, so onward I press.

I’ve been going to therapy regularly. It’s been a huge help in my life. I feel like I’m over a lot of the huge fears that were taking over my life and making it hard to do little things that other people can do with ease. It’s also helped me learn to think through things more before they do them and have someone to have a sense of accountability to in terms of my mood and keeping up with my meds.

On the bad side of things, I found out that shortly after my breakdown (when my husband and I weren’t really on speaking terms) that he had been talking to girls on Craigslist. He said nothing more than talking ever happened, which I believe. That doesn’t stop it from hurting though. The sad thing is that we had been doing really well before I found this out. We were getting along and hardly fighting at all.

I found out about two weeks ago. I’m still hurt, like, brain splitting, mind numbing, heart crushing hurt. I’m depressed, but not so much so that I’m unable to function and get through the day. The odd thing is that while I’m depressed, I’m able to have moments of happiness in between the depression. He’ll do something sweet or comfort me when I’m feeling really down, and I get a warmth and happiness inside. It’s odd for me because that’s never happened before. Usually when I’m depressed that’s all I can be. Like there isn’t room inside me for more than one strong emotion at a time. I talked to my therapist about it and she said this is how normal people feel when they have a mild depression. It doesn’t take over their whole being. Huh. So I’m feeling something normal for once. A little glimpse into the life of a regular person.

Thing is, it keeps sending off alarms for me. I don’t know what I’m afraid might happen, but something about having a depression with a light at the end of the tunnel feels scary to me. I guess maybe simply because it’s not what I’m used to or what I know. Depression? Got it. Mania? Check. Depression with a side of happy? Now my brain hurts.

I’m also spending a lot of time thinking about what our life was when we first got together. We had a lot of freedom those days. We could go out if we wanted when we felt like it. We could get home and have sex and fall asleep in each other’s arms. We could do what we wanted when we felt like it. Marriage, serious jobs, and a kid have changed all that. And I wonder…would our relationship have gotten so bad if we still had that kind of freedom? If we could still do whatever we wanted with only job constrains, would we have separated once and been on the verge this last time? I think probably not.

Then that thought, wishing that we still had the life we had in our younger years together, makes me feel like a bad mom. Like somehow thinking this is the same thing as thinking that I wish I wouldn’t have had a kid. Which of course, it’s not. I love my son more than anything. He brings me so much joy and a sense of purpose I never knew without him. He gives me a reason to keep trying to get better and not destroy my life with every move I make. But somehow, missing my old life makes me feel like Worst Mother of the Year. It’s just some days I wish my husband and I had more time to be us. More time to spend together, not exhausted from a full day of work and childrearing. Some time that wasn’t spent thwarting terrible twos.

Maybe it’s just the depression. I’m sure that’s what it is. But can’t stop feeling like a really crappy mom.

Anyway, back to my regular routine. I’m going to try to get back in the habit of posting regularly on here again. It seemed to help when I did. I just needed a break from my mind for a while. i can’t promise a post a day what with school and work and my son and trying to re-fix my marriage, but I will do the best I can. Not like oh so many people read this or anything…

On fear of the dark and fear of night lights

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.

Quote from Montaigne.  Found in a chapter given to me by my therapist.  How appropriate.

At our first meeting, my therapist request that I work on a list of things that cause me anxiety.  It took a good two hours and three small sheets of paper, but I did it.  We haven’t done it up in tiers, but my guess is when we do, I’ll list darkness pretty close to the top.

Because it took our whole hour session for me to get through my list, I got very little homework my second session.  One big item I did get was relating to my fear of the dark.  She asked me what I did at bedtime, to which I replied that I sleep with the TV on.  She asked if I ever considered a noise machine.  I explained that I muted the TV right before I went to sleep and that I only keep it on for the light.  Apparently, this is not as normal as I thought it was.

I guess my thought process was that night lights were for kids and TVs were adult toys, so having a TV on was more adult and thus less embarrassing.  She says most adults if they keep TVs on at night do so for background noise, not for the light.  Well, boo.  I hate when I think I’m doing something at least somewhat normal and find out that I’m not.  She said far more adults use, wait for it….night lights.  So I was way off the mark.

So my homework was to get a night light and turn off the TV.  I thought this sounded really simple.  I ended up getting a kids nightlight even though it defeated my original logic because it was cute and seemed to emit the most light and figured I could step down to a smaller one as I got more comfortable.  It has less glow than a TV but a blue hue to it so it has a similar feel.  It’s called a Little Tyke I believe.  It doesn’t look too childish like a Pixar Princess nightlight or anything.

So last night, I watched TV for a while, felt myself getting sleepy, and turned the TV off for the first time since I’ve had a TV in my room.  It took everything in me not to have a panic attack and I have no clue why.  The room was well lit.  I could see things just as well as I could with the TV on, which isn’t as clear as with the lights on of course, but not as scary as with nothing.  Something about the change from my routine threw me off bad and my heart started racing like crazy and my palms were sweating and my breathing got shallow.

I went on like this for about fifteen minutes arguing with myself in my head about turning the TV back on.  I started doing my deep breathing because things were getting worse and if I didn’t calm my breathing down I would have had a full blown panic attack and 10:30pm is not a good time to have those, not that they’re great at any time.  It took a good thirty minutes for the panic to finally subside.  Thirty minutes.  Over a night light.  Then, once the panic died down, I couldn’t sleep because my body was so keyed up from being in “flight” mode.   I probably didn’t actually get to sleep until midnight last night.

Probably not the best thing to do on a Sunday.  But in my defense I thought a night light was going to be no big deal.

I have positive and negative things to say about my night light experience.

On the plus side, I freaked out but I got through it and didn’t turn the TV back on.  Which means I’m one baby step closer (I guess) to being over my fear of the dark.

On the down side, had you asked me before I did this what my anxiety might have risen to at it’s peak when I did this I might have guessed a 2 when in reality it hit about an 8.  So baby steps apparently are baby steps on a rope suspended across buildings over open flames, not baby steps on soft feathery pillows as I’d hoped.

I hope all exposure therapy steps are not quite so difficult.  It would be nice to have some easy wins in there.  I thought this would be an easy win, but alas no.

All in all, I do have something to be proud of though.

Migraines, shots, and naps

I’ve been beyond crazy busy.  Today my body not so nicely told me to slow it down by giving me a migraine from hell that kept me home.  I got to try out my Sumavel shot, which needle free it may be, but as the doctor warned, pain free it is not.  I messed up on the first one and successfully did the second one.  I then slept for eight and half hours.  I am now feeling headache free and very rested (as one should be after seven hours of sleep at night followed by an eight hour nap).

Therapy has been going well, but that’s a long post for another day and the Topamax that’s supposed to make my headaches not happen has my fingers too numb to make a long post tonight.

When the pupil is willing to learn, a teacher will appear.

Quote is a Zen proverb – not something I was clever enough to come up with.

I went to my new therapist.  I like her so far, which is more than I can say for any therapist previously.  I told her I mostly want to work on my anxiety and stress right now because that impacts my life every day, no matter what my cycle is, while the mania and depression only effect me in those particular cycles.  I told her I would like to get to where we can work on those too.

I explained that I’ve tried meditation and every trick in the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and lots of other “think positive” nonsense all to no avail and that I had given up hope pretty much and just accepted that I’d be stuck this way.  However, I would like not to be so much a mess for my son and also for me, so I’m giving it one last go.  One last go on my anxiety and bipolar in talk therapy before I stick to pill only treatment.

She explained her approach which I explained back to my husband as a combination of being Zen and good old fashioned exposure (uggh) therapy.  Exposure therapy is one I haven’t tried because, well, it sounds downright awful.  The thought of purposely putting myself in scary situations is enough to make my heart start to race.  However, the things I have gotten over I’ve gotten over by being forced into the situation, so maybe there’s some merit there.  Also I watched the OCD Project and while I was horrified the whole time, they all seemed to get over their issues (mostly).

The Zen part is something I strive to accomplish and believe is the key to real happiness, but cannot manage to achieve.  If she can teach me this, I think I could get through life okay.  To accept that I’m anxious about a situation, breathe deeply, and carry on.  To have the fear or stress but not let it overtake me.  I think that’s more reasonable than expecting all stress and fear to go away.  I think it’s also a way to deal with my brain’s ability to create new stress and phobias as I beat old ones.

She also thinks all my stress makes my cycles worse, which is possible. She thinks that by managing the stress and anxiety, we can manage the bipolar.  What a double win that would be.

She said we would work on what I mentioned before – being able to better manage the depression and mania as it comes.  She said if we work on managing it during normal periods it will become habit and I’ll be able to do it when in a swing.  She likened it to still doing basic things when manic or depressed when getting up and brushing your teeth, although perhaps not always so much when depressed.

All in all, I’m pretty hopeful.  We meet again Monday to start official treatment (Friday was our get to know you session) and then every two weeks after that.

She wants me to get back in the habit of mood tracking on my iPhone (which I’m so-so about doing) because I can email it to her.  I think that’s a good idea although I’ll have to curse less and be a little less random in my notes to email it I think.  I stopped tracking my meds completely, which was pretty stupid, but there’s a lot of them and it was time consuming.

That being said, goals for the week include tracking mood at least twice a day and actually recording meds taken.

Your pills make me dizzy

I went to the neurologist yesterday for my migraines.  I couldn’t take the constant headache anymore.  I left with FIVE prescriptions.  I now officially take more medicine than a 90 year old.  My life is so depressing.

The doctor told me that I had a lot of things working against me.  She said people with psychiatric problems tend to be treatment resistant (figures).  She also said a lot of the medicine I’ve either tried and had issues with or can’t take because of my bipolar so we’re limited to what we can use.  She also doesn’t want to prescribe narcotics, most likely because of the bipolar.  I really don’t care what she gives me if the headaches go away.

I walked out back on Dopamex Topamax.  The pill that makes me tingly and stupid.  She says orange juice will make the tingly go away.  Something my crazy doctors didn’t know I guess.  I also got some kind of fancy Ibuprofen (Ketoprofen?), Trexemet, Imitrex shot, and a refill of Promethazine.

I find it increasingly odd that all of my problems are treated with similar pills.  This leads to me believe all my problems are cause by my crazy.

She also wants to do a spinal tap because she says maybe, based on my headaches, I might be leaking spinal fluid.  Really?!  I mean, really?  Can’t I catch a break??  Jury is still out on if I believe this is possible enough to deal with a spinal tap.  I’m untrusting of lots of tests.  I’m sure the doctors get a kickback on these things.  There’s a lot of money in big problems.  Perhaps not so much with treatable ones.  I’ve been stressed like crazy over it and my hypochondriac head is now making my spine hurt all day.

I had to get a new book to track all my medications.  My old book ran out of room.  I really hate my life on days like this.

All my life all I remember is crazy

So my husband was watching this movie Jumper last night.  It’s about a guy who can teleport.  We were discussing the plot holes in the movie, and it triggered these weird memories from my childhood.

The first was that for years I used to do what people call “astral projection” if I remember the term correctly.  Of course, I probably really didn’t.  I was probably delusional.  But at that young age, I didn’t have enough grasp on reality to know and I can’t alter how I remember my childhood reality.  I used to lay still and my body would lift up and I could go anywhere.  Not like imagine I went places, but feel myself go.  Where I could look down on me laying in bed and leave the house and go anywhere.

The other was that I used to have these dreams of running down the street and suddenly being able to take off and fly.  But I couldn’t fly like a bird.  I could only go up in increments.  Like a hop up and then walk at that level, then another hop up and so on.  One time, I recall vividly being able to do this outside of a dream.  Also clearly delusional.

It’s odd how these memories contrast with my normal child “imagination.”  When I was imagining, I can recall both the reality and what I was pretending.  When I was delusional, I can remember only the altered reality.  Like the times I would hallucinate things I can’t register that they weren’t there in the memory.  Even now with a better sense of things that really happen, I can only remember that at the time they were there.  Now when I see things, most of the time I can know they aren’t real.

A lot of my paranoia now comes from things I hallucinated as a child.  I used to see people walking through my house at night and in my room.  Sometimes outside my window.  They were made of black fuzz like on a broken TV.  I used to think they were ghosts since they clearly weren’t real people (though sometimes I saw more typical looking people).  Now, as an adult, I avoid places people have died because I’m so scared of ghosts.  To me, even though I know it was just hallucinations, those early memories will always be ghosts to me.  I also feel like I’m hyper-sensitive to supernatural vibes, although this is probably nonsense.

It’s really no fun to be a bipolar kid.  It’s sad that this life is all I have memories of.