Vertigo – the downside

This is going to sound very Buddhist of me, but I see everything as having both sides. Good and evil, glamorous and sinister, light and dark. For example, this could apply to drone technology, or the current US president (I hesitated about the last one but I can play the devil’s advocate with it, if I tried…). But today my thoughts are about medication. I’ve talked about side effects before, and sometimes the side effects override the therapeutic effects it’s suppose to provide. For me, some of those side effects include dissociation, increase in suicidal ideation, insomnia, and decrease in appetite. None of those things would have happened without the correctly (or sometimes incorrectly) prescribed meds. But I still obediently took them, thinking that it’s going to get better, and that it was better than unmedicated bipolar depression.

Today I added one more to my growing list.

Vertigo. (Like, around 20 seconds of vertigo, around 10 different times.)

Some mistaken it as the thing you experience as an agoraphobic, but you don’t have to be somewhere high up to necessarily feel this. Medication side effect is a strong culprit (lithium, personally), but maybe not the singularly definitive one (considering sleep, nutrition, activities etc).

Whatever the case, I have to be careful with turning my neck today because it’s a trigger for this vertigo, I found, after 2 or 3 times it happened. It’s different from dizziness, which is one of the side effects I already experience daily. Vertigo is an imaginary roller coaster with your axis flipped sideways, that feels real. I was in bed one moment and next I felt like I was falling into my mattress like I was on a roller coaster. I gripped my bed sheets so that I would not fall into the imaginary hole that my mind created.

Even when it’s not triggered it can happen at any moment for me, so showering is not the safest activity without assistance. I’m wondering how others deal with this, if you have?


Most of this week was a concerted effort from everyone involved in my recovery to distract me from my thoughts. My motivation was at an all time low, and so was my energy level. I’m trying to think of it as part of the process, but I’m getting tired (pun intended) of nights where I sleep and sleep and yet I never feel like I get any proper rest. I’ve been wanting to get off of taking Ativan for sleep, but that seems like a really bad idea right now with all the sleep problems. Hoping that this veil of doom lifts soon and I don’t have to worry about falling everywhere.

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Unsettled

Really struggling today.

I get anxious about everything outside of the house. I’m the least anxious under the covers. I escape reality by oversleeping.

Usually drawing or writing grounds me, but it’s not working.

I’ve lost a lot of weight because we don’t have snacks around the house and mostly

because I don’t have an appetite.

Sleeping is difficult because I wake up every two hours. I started taking a higher dose my doctor prescribed PRN.

I’m trying to stay grounded, and trying to stay present. Trying to distract myself from bad thoughts and see thoughts and thoughts and nothing more. Meditating helps a little bit, but I feel so flat it’s hard to get in touch with myself. So I continue to distract, hoping that I’m not avoiding by doing so. My family has intervened, and started taking me out to mandatory walks in the park to get exercise. Like a frightened puppy. I close my eyes when we drive there because the roads here are so narrow and the drivers honk at every chance they get. Then I see myself slowly caving in, getting further from myself and others into a black hole where I can’t feel anything and I’m not aware of my surroundings.

I know I can get better. I’ve been better. I’ve been optimistic, and happy about who I was. I smiled when I walked down the street and I was confident. I’ve felt good and good about myself and I know it will come with time.

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Coming out of the dip a little bit

Trigger warning. I want to keep this blog as honest and transparent as possible, so that people who feel alone in their struggles feel validated and that they are not the only one going through it. But sometimes it can be a bit too much so this is just a heads up. 

Maybe my depressive episode (of this week) is coming to an end. I’m feeling less guilty, less paranoid, less irritable, less numb, less hopeless, a little more energetic…This dip wasn’t as bad as some of the other ones I’ve been through where I felt suicidal (without a good reason) and had plans. I was hospitalized soon after that, thank goodness. This time it was more just being OK with not living, which wasn’t as hard of an urge to fight off. There are shades of depression or even suicidality, and it’s important to know where your tipping point is, and when you need to seek help. I feel safe today, and feel like I’m in one piece, as if the negative thoughts are not able to engulf me, and I’m going to try to get out and attempt to do things.

Hope everyone is having a good day.

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One of those bad days

I stayed in bed all day with my cat, my protector, the one who silently understands. I was supposed to go to open houses with my family but that proved to be a monumental task. I got up from bed to get to the kitchen, and without a knowable cause, I fell. Just blacked out. The next thing I know, I’m on the floor, and my mother is hugging me close. It could be anemia, or something else, but I feel like I ran a marathon, so I said no to the planned activities.

It’s hard being me. It could be much harder without the love and the support (emotionally, financially) I get from my family, but it’s still hard. Actually, it’s not hard at all if I feel like I’m “myself.” It’s only hard when my body and mind decide to give up during the only time when my whole family is in one place. (My parents live in separate countries).

New York City, my new home, is the financial center of America, where money is made, status is elevated, and luxury is experienced. It’s always busy for those who can afford to be busy. But for me, it all looks like an old, cliche Broadway show that I’m watching without much interest. I’m not part of the show, or want any part of it, and it keeps going and going, and I look around to see that I’m the only one not really interested.

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Feeling overwhelmed

I would like my appetite back please. The sink clogged and it’s the day before my move/flight. I’ve tried the vinegar and baking soda method (two things I haven’t packed for some reason), but no luck. Oh well. I dissociated today after a disagreement with my mover who kept pushing for more money to drive our van for the same distance. I haven’t dissociated in a while, so it was hard to get my bearings straight. It felt most like being very very drunk and nothing was real, except you don’t feel good at all, and you feel tense, anxious and frightened.

I’m so very stressed about tomorrow. I’ve never flown with a cat before and I’m moving on the same day as the flight. Also we are picking up the moving van in the morning. Oh. Plus the car in NY probably need to get jumped. I’m feeling super overwhelmed by the avalanche of events that are about to happen.

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Reflections: second last day in Chicago

Boxes, boxes everywhere. I’ve moved a lot in my life. Overseas, across the country, within the same city, within the same continent, you name it, I’ve done it. Yet it’s always a struggle. It’s more of a struggle for me this time than any of those times because my bipolar depression wasn’t in full bloom back then. I’m doing a lot better this month than I have since college, or forever really. When my psychiatrist asked in my last appointment when I last felt like myself, I had to pause and scratch my head a bit. Feeling like myself… huh… Did I ever feel that? Do I feel “normal” now? You learn to forget. How you feel becomes a new normal, then another new normal until you hit rock bottom. You can’t see the forest from the trees, and you can’t compare the gradual changes your brain goes through, as others can. Just like aging over time.

Chicago living has been pleasant, (sans bad experiences that could have happened anywhere else). The people are, as Midwesterners are known, nice. Places are more spacious for a lot cheaper, and people don’t give too much of a hoot about how they look (Not in a fashionable Parisian way, but in a utilitarian, it’s warm-it’s comfortable-and-I’m-going-to-wear-it way). It’s less cut throat. At least compared to the East Coast. The best words I can come up with are that I have grown here, but I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed my life here. There are still painful things that come up, like when someone I dated for a year broke my heart by breaking up with me at 2 am out of the blue, or the time my new boss told me that I was not learning quickly enough (during our first one-on-one), the time someone whom I considered as one of my best friends stopped talking to me during my worst time with my depression, the time I got hospitalized the first time, and the second time, and the time someone who meant a lot to me didn’t believe that my depression was very serious, or that I was trying to get better.

At the same time, there were small surprises here and there that made it all bearable. I found a group of friends that I really clicked with (read: found a book club with) from work who were kind, and saw my potential as a coworker/person. I adopted the most beautiful cat, who is my Emotional Support Animal. I have been in love and out of love, then in love again. I found the missing link to my life- the ultimate question, the truth about myself, “why was I so sad/guilty/depressed/down all the time?” (answer: I have an illness, and had it probably for awhile and it went untreated), complete strangers who wanted me to feel better while I was hospitalized/in treatment, the friends who visited me at the hospital, and most importantly, my parents who supported me through my struggles and stayed by my side.

Life is funny. When I got this job offer based in Chicago out of college two years ago, I had rejected the other ones closer to home, thinking that it was a good idea to move somewhere I’ve never been. Turns out, I didn’t know myself very well, or what I wanted. I wasn’t sure where home was, but I found myself telling my friends at my farewell brunch that “I’m going home.” So I guess, New York is home, then.

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Trying our best

I used to be one of those ignorant people before I got (clinically) depressed, so I know where they are coming from. But Andrew Tate’s twitter comment about depression not being real? Ignorance is so real.

Those of us with invisible mental illnesses…To society, we might look like failures. But in reality, we’ve worked as hard or harder than anyone else, just to survive another day. Recovery is more than a full time job, and an accomplishment in itself- getting my diagnosis of bipolar II and the depressive episodes related to it were definitely the hardest things that I’ve had to face in my twenty-something years.

We might not look like we’re trying our best on the outside from your perspective, but trust us, we are. Not everyone functions the same way. We don’t have the same f(x) = y, certain input of energy and determination does not equal certain amount of result.

It’s my personal belief that everyone is doing their best in their given situation. It may not seem like it if you put yourself in our shoes, but that just means that you don’t have all the information. How someone grew up with certain values, hopes and dreams. Traumas they hid from you. Chronic pain. Mental Condition. Physical ailments. External environment. Relationships. The list goes on. We’re complicated. If you did know everything, you would understand why we are doing certain things a certain way, and that we’re brave enough to have gone through it all.

So don’t tell us to just “suck it up,” or berate us for being depressed. While there is tremendous amount of effort needed to recover and manage our illness, “sucking it up” doesn’t cure us, since our illness is not something we cannot control, but a constant battle to be fought.

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