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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Taking the road not taken (before)

Another late night post, folks. (Because of the usual insomnia.)The move is technically complete, except for some important details:

  • I need to find a psychiatrist
  • I need a new therapist (!!!)
  • I need something to do to get a routine going
  • I need a plan

I’ve called to get an appointment but it looks like the numbers for psychiatrists aren’t exactly up to date on my insurance website or the web, so I just left messages at all the good hospitals around the area. As a chronic Spoonie, I have my 90 day refill with me so finding one right away isn’t the most dire thing. But still. No psychiatrist! AHHHHH!!!I’ve been told that Psychology Today is a good place to look for therapists, so I’ve taken a peek, and it was nice that everyone listed their modalities and specialties. It will take some time to find a good one as I meet with them to evaluate whether if they’re going to the best fit. My lovely therapist in Chicago sent me a card saying really sweet things about the improvements I made and it almost brought me to tears. We worked together for about a year on and off and she’s seen basically the darkest corners of my life, and it was sad to let that go and a bit scary to have to find a new person.Now, on what to do with my time here… in the short term, I’m still in treatment. Not in a sense I’m going to a treatment center a few times a week for group therapy, but I’m still staying away from returning to work for a bit longer. I’ve already decided the path I was on was not good for me when I started this blog, and I’m doing everything I can to not relapse, because I know how painful it can be to go through another hospitalization again for myself and those close to me. So instead I’m looking at classes I could take in the interim that I would enjoy. I was thinking art classes such as print making classes, which wouldn’t be hard to find in the city. Long term though, is a bit more complicated. There are so many options out there, with limitations as always, since I cannot take jobs that are very high stress or need certain educational backgrounds. My majors in college (math, statistics and economics) were right for the job market, but it certainly wasn’t right for me in hindsight. I did very well academically, but it prepared me for the typical high stress/ highly competitive jobs in the business world. Without having knowledge of the underlying chronic illness, I was not a good fit. I’m at a place where I could try again and see if another type of corporate job would be right for me, or I could switch paths completely. Health sciences are the most desirable field for me because as providers of the care I need, they would be understanding, and I wouldn’t have to hide myself from getting found out that I’m “mentally weak” or something ridiculous as you’d face in the corporate world. I’m hesitantly considering becoming a developer because I like programming but I’m hesitant because the hours they work are pretty long and stressful. Another option I’m considering is to join a monastery and become a Buddhist nun. No, not kidding. I don’t know how they would feel about pill popping nuns, because some of the traditionalists don’t approve of western medicine, but I’ve thought about going down that path since I was in college. My values and principles basically come from Buddhist roots, and I’m the most home when I’m at a temple. Everything fits the criteria, except the money aspect. It’s a very different lifestyle that these monks and nuns live, so I will have to do some more research before I dive in.

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Somehow it all came together

Well, I almost lost my cat at the airport.

The frightened little thing un-harnessed herself by backing out and tried to make a run for it when I took her out of her carrier during the security check. I caught her hind legs and didn’t dare let her go because I think it might have become news if she got lost at O’hare international.

To start, we woke up in the morning and brought the rental truck to load our stuff. The movers and driver came and they were on their way to New York. We got on the plane, all three of us, including the cat. This sounds really spoiled but we flew first class because I wanted more leg room for my cat. My cat ended up doing pretty well during the trip- I didn’t give her sedatives but she ended up dozing off. The whole time she meowed only once! The flight attendant was another cat lover so we chatted about that. She said doesn’t see so many cats flying on board so she was surprised.

We got home and after feeding Olivia, getting the litter box out, we crashed.

This morning, the movers who drove our truck was on their way to storage. And our car battery had died as my mother had been in Chicago for months, so we had to get some help from roadside assistance so we could get to the storage place. But since the ETA for the Chicago movers was unclear, the movers on the New York side didn’t know what to do when it came time for them to help because my truck wasn’t their yet! 90 bucks an hour for two people, wasted… but it did get there. So we were able to finish up. During all this chaos, one of us were working on a contract with the storage unit (after seeing twenty different sizes), and the other, telling the movers on both sides what to do. And the car battery died again, so I was again in the phone with roadside services.

I’m about to return the truck now, which had to be refueled before returning. I need sleep.

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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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Three principles

I’ve been a bit stuck with this question of, “what are your principles?” So I’ve been listening to what other people thought theirs was, and here is one of them, relevant for interpersonal effectiveness:

Three things to live by* (and the values):

  1. If something is better to be said than not, then say it, even if it’s scary. (Advocacy, integrity)
    • Think back to a situation or two where you wished you could go back in time and say to someone what you were really thinking.
  2. Do not rely solely on others to fulfill your wishes.
    • This can easily lead to manipulating behaviors. You cannot (in reality) control other people, and people can always move in and out of your life whether you like it or not. All you have is you, as well as control over yourself and your behaviors. (Independence, self-sufficiency)
  3. Practice self-care, always.
    • You need to put your own air mask first. Don’t become someone’s liability. (Self-compassion)

*The credit goes to one of the therapists I’m working with named Matt.

What are some principles or mantras that you cherish in your everyday life?

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