These are my thoughts. They are not meant to make sense. They are my echo into the woods. I am the tree that falls, and it is here that I make a sound.
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The history of babble of the modern psychotic blonde

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Sanity Optional
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Purpose

I did some gardening on the weekend. Our house is on the corner and the city sidewalk extends down the side of our property. We have a hedge running along the side about a foot in from the sidewalk. I trimmed the hedge to encourage it to grow together and fill in (we've only been in the house 4 years and it was a brand new house when we moved in. The hedge is just a baby). Then I dug up some weeds that had got an early start in the garden running along the side wall of the house and extended the width of the garden out about 4 inches, making sure there's a nice trench to help in watering and weed control.

When I had originally put in the garden, I had put small field stones along the edge rather than a trench. In extending the garden I moved the stones (which I transferred to another garden on our lawn). In three separate spots, when I picked up the rocks, I discovered another little world.

The rocks were covering ant nurseries. There were dozens of small white eggs, and large holes in the dirt leading into other shadowy "rooms" where I could see the vague shapes of more eggs. It seemed that as soon as the rock was moved, the ant nannies went into action. They scrambled to the eggs and began to move them into the deeper, darker caverns. Their reaction was immediate. Filled with a sense of purpose, the ants knew exactly what they had to do: protect the eggs. And so they did.

I know this'll sound bizarre, but bipolar disorder is something like that. There are days where you are so filled with a surety of being, and an accompanying confidence of purpose. You are the person to do the job: paint, draw, save your neighbour's soul, win that next bet, save the world. You and only you. But the thing is that the same surety of purpose can turn on a dime, either to another purpose that happens to fly across your radar screen, distracting you off into a radically different direction, leaving yet another project unfinished, or it can disappear altogether. You become a drone in the egg chamber with its legs broken, sentient enough to know that you should be doing something, but crippled and despairing of what has been lost. Your focus is still narrow, but it becomes riddled with holes and pervasive darkness.

I bounce from supreme confidence to confusion to a hell of proportions I cannot truly describe. I know I'm not alone.

I know that the medications I take should even that out, and I know that I should be having less oscillation in my moods than I do. But the alternative right now is to increase the mood stabilizer one more jump upward. And for anyone who's been reading this blog for more than a month knows that increasing my valproic acid is not an option.

I'm getting blood tests done soon (I keep forgetting, dammit) and will then hopefully move up the appointment with the liver specialist, get the biospy done and then find out if I can then have statistical support in my quest to find a better medication.

Just reading the above, I know I'm babbling some. And I'm at work, just starting my morning. So, time to work. Enough blather.
Monday, May 23, 2005

A quote

Something I said at the family dr visit recently when I was asking for a second opinion:

"I wish that I could go someplace, like physiotherapy, and my bipolar disorder would go away. Like a sore elbow, I could exercise my mind, teaching it to function properly again. I could do some crossword puzzles, figure out some increasingly difficult cryptograms and then graduate after some particularly tasty logic puzzles".

The doctor smiled at me sadly and said "It would be nice, I know. But this is going to be your life from now on."

But a girl can dream, can't I?
Saturday, May 21, 2005

Ten Things I've Never Done

Shrinkette :-) What a great idea...and it will get me out of an egocentric spiral by thinking about me. How ironic. And to think about things I've never done makes me think about what I HAVE done.

Boy have I been busy. Tattoos, check. Piercings, check. Been stalked, been confused for a serial killer (I'm dead serious. It was scary). Seen all kinds of things, done all kinds worse. Like that night at that party with the man in the stirrups...but that's another story.

But here we go. Hmmmm....this is harder than I thought.

Ten Things I've Never Done:

1) Climbed a mountain (the little ski hill at the park where I grew up doesn't count).
2) Been on a plane trip more than 2 1/2 hrs long.
3) Seen any episode of Survivor (I have a thing against reality TV as a concept).
4) Scored a hat trick in hockey.
5) Had a broken leg.
6) Stayed at a job more than 5 years at one stretch.
7) Picked up another woman at a bar.
8) Played organised sports as a child.
9) Learned to ski.
10) Finished my university degree

Now, who will I tag?
Michele? Tidal Moods? Whadya say Becky?
Pearls and Dreams? Anyone else want to take up the baton?

Thanks again, shrinkette. I do feel a little better.
Friday, May 20, 2005

Me

The wheels have started for the second opinion. Because of a number of reasons, it can take up to six months for me to get another pdoc. Or more.

I am so very tired. Part of me wonders: depression lurking? another mixed state? or what if this is indeed related to the liver and that's the source of it.

I told the fam dr that I've avoided social events because I so hate the changes in me since taking this medication. I told him that that was not an acceptable way to be and he readily agrees.

Family dr wants me to not wait til Sept to have the next appt with the hepatologist but get it done sooner: that is the only way to resolve the issue with the medication, to know one way or the other if it is the valproic acid and then, once known, a course of action can be taken.

This is a long weekend. Victoria Day Monday. I hope I can sleep or shake off this fatigue.

Echoes of paranoia today. Whether it's from the fatigue, which lowers my guard, or whether it's part of what is behind the fatigue (i.e. depression or mixed state blooming), I don't know. But it's disconcerting. Maybe the sun this weekend will help. It's supposed to be great Saturday and Sunday.

I'm off to bed.
Monday, May 16, 2005

Random Thoughts

Sorry, haven't updated lately. The doctor's appt for last Tuesday, where I was to get a referral for a second opinion, fell through: the doctor was sick. I have another appt for tomorrow night. I'll let you know how it goes.

I've also been thinking about how I try not to let the bipolar be central in my life, and sometimes I'm quite successful. But I know I can't ignore it: it makes itself felt, known, in various ways. I keep stumbling over it like a child's toy on the floor I forgot to put away.

For example:

I played hockey last night, the second game with the new Sunday night team. At one point I was dying for a change so I was yelling for my substitute to come on for me (hockey is one of few if not the only sport where you can substitute players on the fly - one of the reasons the game is as fast as it is). She was engrossed in the play further up the ice and I yelled again. I mean I REALLY YELLED (trust me, I have a big mouth and a healthy set of lungs to back it up) saying "LET'S GO! PAY ATTENTION". Later, after the game I apologized to the girl for yelling as I did (it was THAT loud). The hair trigger response, ramping up in intensity as it did, made me think "ok, was that a bipolar response or a legitimate one based on the circumstance?" I decided it was legitimate and went on. But the issue of BP still came up. I still have to overlay the template of bipolar symptoms on my day to day actions to ensure that I'm not straying off the "normal" radar.

Something else: I noticed that driving around Toronto has distinct smells. On my drive to work I pass a Molson's plant that smells like yeast. Then I pass another area that smells like wood: they make patio furniture. Sometimes I'm down by the lake and it has its own distinct smell. It's been raining for a few days and I can smell the rain coming in on the wind, smelling almost electric against the pavement.

One last thing: Overall check on radar. I'm hovering just under hypomanic. Money's flowing a little freely and patience is a little short. Mouth is running a little much. Gotta keep an eye.

Hope all is well. I'll let you know how the dr. appt goes tomorrow night.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Second Opinion

Rob came with me to the pdoc's last Wednesday. He asked me later on: Was I there to be your muscle? I said, something like that. More specifically he was there to be my witness, to confirm for me that my impressions of the doctor are not just bipolar tinted paranoid fantasy, that he really does not listen to me.

We went through the story of me reducing my meds and he didn't freak out like I thought he would. Whether or not that was due to the fact that Rob was there, or that I had prefaced my explanation with a reminder that he had been willing to cut my medication in half and that I had only cut it by a quarter, I'm not sure. The end result was the same: he took the information somewhat in stride. But when I gave him one of my reasons as being that the liver specialist was giving me til September to take some steps to reduce the liver enzymes, which includes losing weight, and since the medication makes losing weight very difficult: well, he didn't like that.

He told me that if we go off Valproic Acid, the only other choice is Lithium. (Yes, Michele, I know he's a doofus). I said, yes, Lithium is an option, but from what I understand, Lithium can cause thyroid damage and because I sincerely believe in Murphy's Law, if anyone would get thyroid damage, it would be me.

His response:

Well, if the valproic acid is causing the liver damage, that is bad, but if you have thyroid damage from Lithium, all you have to do is take synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of your life and you'll be fine.

What a fucking idiot.

Rob was sitting there, listening to me argue back how I thought those choices were like the devil and the deep blue sea: neither was acceptable.

Then the pdoc said that he wasn't really sure that the valproic acid was causing the liver trouble anyway because I was the only patient of his that was having this trouble. I said NO, very calmly, and said I've read the medical literature and (here's a rough quote of what I said, vocabulary and all):

The liver enzymes become elevated as a result of an injury to the literature. Published pharmaceutical studies show that drugs such as valproic acid, which they specifically name, are known to cause liver injury. The metabolites of valproic acid attack the liver. The metabolites of Lithium do not. Since the valproic acid is known to attack the liver anyway, AND it is also known to increase weight gain, which can accelerate the condition known as fatty liver, it is not a medication suitable to someone who is visibly demonstrating the early signs of potential liver damage.

End quote.

Rob said later on that the doctor doesn't like the fact that I'm not one of those zombie-medicated schizophrenics that he centres most of his practice on, that I'm not "sick" enough for this doctor, and as a result, he doesn't like the fact that I don't just sit there and say yes sir, no sir, three valproic acid full sir. He may be right.

Then the doctor said, while I continued to argue why both medications are unacceptable, he said the words I've been longing to hear for so long.

Perhaps you might want to get a second opinion. "I don't want to dump you off onto someone else, but maybe another doctor could find some option that I can't". Oh yeah, baby. I'm pretty sure on that one.

And the heavens opened and the angels did sing.

He also wants me to get another series of blood tests done to see where the liver enzymes and the valproic acid levels are at. I will, but I haven't had a chance yet (the new job is a long way from the lab I have to go to for the tests).

But I damn well made sure I have an appt with my family doctor to get a referral for a second opinion.

That appt is at 8 pm tonight.

My family doctor thinks very highly of my pdoc because of some charity work he does in the outlying regions of Newfoundland where psychiatry options are scare. But Hitler liked his dog. Doesn't mean he was a good leader.

Wish me luck tonight.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Helping

This made me feel like I've done something worthwhile, writing my heart out like I do.

From an short email conversation I had recently with shrinkette, She said:

FYI, I was on call last weekend, and I met a patient with elevated liver enzymes. I launched into a long speech about med changes, and she just sat there and looked at me, saying nothing. And then it hit me in a flash....Blondzila! White noise! So I said, "These are meds that you've depended on for a long time, and it must be scary to hear me talk about changing them." Well, all at once, when she heard that, she started crying, and crying, and really talking to me. We compromised on the med changes (less drastic dose reductions, more "wait and see.") Thank you, Blondizila!!!!! You are helping people 2,700 miles away. Post this paragraph on your blog, if you like!

Wow. Sometimes I feel very alone, that I'm the only one with this monster running amok in my brain. I know I've so many bipolar friends that read this, and on a rational level I know I'm not the only one, but still sometimes I have thoughts that I'm different, that you all seem to have such a good handle on things that I must be alone in my struggles. But shrinkette's anecdote tells me that not only am I not alone, but that my writing here in an attempt to help exorcise some of my demons has actually helped someone else feel not so alone, to feel like someone understands and cares.

What a wonderful currency: caring. Not traded as often as it should be, but all the more precious a commodity for that fact.

Thank you shrinkette. Like I said in my email, you have no idea how good your timing is.
Monday, May 02, 2005

I'm giving into the fact it was a failure

The meds experiment.

It was a failure.

I said to Rob over dinner tonight, after Adam had excused himself, that I've been thinking and that I'm going to "up" my valproic acid back to its previous, potentially liver damaging levels. He said he thought that was a VERY good idea. He said "I don't think we could say that this experiment was a complete success". Then I told him that I'd scared myself at work today and that made me finally admit that I need help.

Part of me is incredibly saddened by this. It's like admitting to the disease all over again. That I'm broken. That I'm not whole. That I'm diseased, sick, not normal, strange, weird, keep your kids away loony.

How did I scare myself?

Have you ever been motoring along throughout your day and caught yourself in mid thought, not realising that you'd been on that train of thought at all? Well, I did, and earlier this morning at work I realised I'd been spending a good portion of time (by the clock I couldn't tell you how long, but it was long enough that I couldn't remember when it started), spending time thinking about dying.

Some might say I'm splitting hairs, but I believe that there will be other bipolar people out there that will understand this fine difference, and it IS a difference, but I was NOT suicidal, but I was thinking about dying. They are definitely related, but not necessarily the same. You might say that one presages the other. And that's why it scared me. It was echoes of the horrid nightmares months before I was hospitalised, where I would have to literally force myself out the door, to make myself not drive into oncoming traffic and go to work like a good little automaton.

I haven't been thinking about it much since then, but I have to be honest (and if I'm not going to be honest to you, my own blog, my own self, then who can I be honest too? that's why I started this blog to begin with, to give me a place where I can speak freely without fear of censure or judgment), and being honest, I can say that the thoughts of dying have floated across the landscape of my mind periodically throughout the day, never staying as long as they did earlier this morning. Perhaps they knew I was watched and the thoughts couldn't stand direct scrutiny and fled deeper into the rat's nest of my subconscious.

Now, I have to not only admit to my pdoc on Wednesday that I've played with my meds, but that it didn't work. As well, I have to now be more vigilant than ever for signs of liver problems. Kind of like the extreme fatigue I had today. But you might say that the fatigue came from carrying such a large load as my mind did today, picking up once more the standard of the mentally ill and walking with it into battle.

God I hate this.

I so wanted this to succeed. I so wanted to prove to everyone, most of all myself, that I was getting better, that I was able to cope with the world without medication, that it was a behavioural thing more than a cerebral hardwired malfunction. Behaviour I could relearn. I could get better just by sheer practice.

I just want to cry.

I'll wait til Rob's asleep though. He's worried enough as it is.

Don't worry, Internet. I'm not going to harm myself. I'm just incredibly sad, stuck once more mourning who I used to be.

Today

You might notice an addition off to the right. It's a little icon that shows my mood. Sometimes it's easier to update that than to type.

Needless to say: today is not going well.
Sunday, May 01, 2005

Better

Went for a run (even though it's very windy - gusts up to 35 km/h or jsut about 22 mph). Then did some gardening for about 1/2 hr, becoming very chummy with the bumper crop of worms that has risen with all the rain we've had.

See, this is why hockey is important. Activity keeps me sane. And we do mean sane, don't we? And the 10 pm games will only be once every 3-4 weeks. The rest are earlier. I also forgot to mention that this night is also likely one of two nights a week (Wednesdays, that is) that Adam'll be playing baseball. It's not confirmed 100% yet but likely. That means I will forfeit a hockey game every few weeks to make sure I see his game. We've talked about it (Adam and I) and I told him I don't want to miss a minute of his baseball games if at all possible but now and again I might miss an inning or so to head to my hockey. Then another time I'll miss the game (hockey that is) to make sure I see the whole baseball game. It's a bit of a juggling act. But that means that the 10 pm games, while scheduled every 3-4 weeks, might only be an issue every other time, which would be once every six to eight weeks. Make sense? A bit of a logistical tongue twister so to speak, but I think we can do it.

Rob's hockey will be Monday, which will likely be the other day a week that Adam's playing baseball, and we don't know when practices will be. I don't like to admit this, but perhaps the best compromise would be to go back up in meds to help me cope with the later schedule that will arise in hockey and the busy-ness of baseball.

But don't tell anyone I said that :-). Let's see what arises from the doctor's trip.

To reiterate, however, I do feel better than I have all weekend, and it is directly due to the high level of activity. I need it.

Weekend Update

Hi there. Remember me?

Rob's starting to think that the reduction in medication isn't such a good idea. I've been (what he terms as) quiet. As well, my summer hockey season is starting in a week and a half and the Wednesday night league that I've joined (new one for me) has my first game at 10 pm on May 11. That is late for me. I will miss my 9 pm dose of Seroquel (can't play ice hockey stoned - just cannot happen) and it'll have to get pushed off til the game is done. Which'll be close to 11 pm. Rob's concerned that the sleep disruption'll put me off even further.

But I've spent good money for this hockey and I'm not going to give it up. Not all the games are at 10. They are 8, 9 or 10 pm. I'll manage.

But then, there's my head.

I find myself less able (willing?) to pull away from specific thought processes. Specific trains of thought (and the train kept a rollin' all night long...a line from a cool Aerosmith song). The paranoia is drifting in again the way snow does on a windy day, slowly piling up against the wall, so you know it's there but can't see it and can not be concerned about it, until it starts creeping up along the wall into the window frame, and you can see it. And you start thinking the snow isn't so beautiful anymore, but something made by the raw power of nature and something to be respected and possibly feared. I find the paranoia has done that: slowly made its way back, and I've been able to turn my head and pretend it's not there. But lately it's made itself visible to me in situations that it shouldn't, situations that deserve my full attention but don't get it because a portion of my brain is trying to figure out that particular Rubix cube of thought.

Do you ever have times where the thoughts in your head take a particular course and you stop, or better yet, the thoughts continue and you think in the splintered fashion that we do: how do I know these thoughts aren't normal? Maybe everyone thinks like this at some point. How do we know that it's outside of what is healthy and proper? I'm not saying suicidal thoughts: those we know aren't kosher. But just other thoughts. I can't believe that "normal" people don't feel paranoid too. Why can't I feel that way sometimes then.

Rob says the cycles are faster than they were. And he's said that he doesn't want to have to go back to worrying about me every minute of the day. I am torn.

BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK UP IN MEDICATION.

Part of me says I can manage this. I can deal with the ups and downs.

But I don't live in a vacuum. I'm shorter tempered with Adam, which is not at all like me. I'm becoming a source of worry to Rob again.

We all know the pros of returning to a higher dose of the meds. The cons: weight gain (mind you, I've only lost 5 lbs coming down that bit like I did), the damage to my liver (retesting scheduled for September, the hepatologist giving me the time to see if I can find some way of letting my liver regenerate to a more healthy condition), and the cost: my benefits at my new job don't kick in until the end of May and each refill of the prescriptions are $300. No reimbursement. Straight out of my not-so-deep pockets. The reduction of the meds allows me to stretch of the effective length of a prescription, costing less money in the long run.

Well there you have it.

Rob and I are both going to see my pdoc Wednesday at 6 pm. I still hope Rob backs me up but I'm not sure what he's backing me up for anymore. To keep on the current meds decision, or to back me up by making sure I take a healthy course. The two aren't necessarily the same.

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