Archive for the ‘Bi-Polar Disorder’ Category

Who ever said staying sane was easy? No one I know would suggest that; however, many can’t imagine the chemistry involved with keeping a person with Bi-Polar Disorder off the carnival ride from hell. You’d think a savvy psychiatrist would find the magic mixture of drugs to balance us out, but often it is simply not so. Besides, you might stabilize for a couple of weeks, maybe even a few months, and then you tumble downhill once again. Here’s my current medicinal repertoire:

Seroquel (treats mood swings and psychosis)
Lamictal (ditto, with the added bonus of [supposedly] preventing migraines)
Effexor XR (manages depression)
Verapomil (a blood pressure medication that helps forestall a migraine attack)
Treximet (when said migraine attacks, take this for possible relief)
Cogentan (treats what I call “the jumpies,” a side effect of Seroquel)
Pepsid (a well-known antacid, to [sometimes] prevent incessant heartburn)
Lunesta (the butterfly-commercial sleep aid, which I somehow need, despite the soporific side-effects of many of my drugs)


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Recently, my friend Tiffany tagged me with a meme to write my memoir in six words. While you’re supposed to tag other bloggers once you’ve been tagged, I really don’t have that many co-bloggers at the moment to tag, or they’ve already been taken. Here are the rules:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is the memoir I would leave today. I’m positive it will change tomorrow or the next day. But for now, here ya go:

Creative writer craves deliverance from evil.

I’m not always this serious or intense when describing myself, but recent events have left me feeling precisely as my memoir suggests.

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A few days ago, I would have been the last person to believe there was such a thing as spiritual warfare. However, after spending the last two days in an abyss akin to hell, I’m beginning to believe that it does, in fact, exist.

[rockyou id=109267686&w=250&h=187]


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10. I traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in the summer of 1987 as part of a team of volunteers from Operation Crossroads Africa. I also served as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kentucky, which allowed me to travel solo for two weeks, visiting my Christian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Ghana. An unfortunate predicament of the Crossroads portion of the trip was that Crossroads staffers (certainly knowingly) permitted the daughter of Malcolm X (Malaak Shabazz) and the daughter of the attorney who freed Malcolm X’s assassin to be placed on the same team: mine. There were some nasty interchanges throughout the trip.

9. I’ve spent 38 days as an in-patient and 28 days as an out-patient in a total of three psychiatric hospitals over the past four years. Yippee for me! I have seen the trauma of adultery carved across the face of a young woman who was sure she should never be forgiven; witnessed a perfectly coiffed professional woman collapse as she tried in vain to ward off the voices in her head that were telling her she must die to rid the world of its sins; and languored (my new verb) as I begged God not to let a particularly troubled young woman regain custody of her three small children.

8. In 1988, as part of an honors thesis, I conducted anthropological research on the staff of St. John Day Center, a new (at the time) homeless shelter for men only that was open 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. In 2007, I returned to St. John to serve my homeless brothers, some of whom remember me from way back when. In 1988, I interviewed one man in particular–I’ll call him John–and learned of his struggles with schizophrenia and rape charges. In 2008, I re-introduced myself to John and learned that he’s been in his own apartment for ten years and feels very “blessed” for all God has done for him. He smiled broadly when he realized I had taken such an interest in him years ago.

7. While serving God by serving my homeless brothers and sisters at the Jefferson Street Baptist Shelter, I had the privilege of spending the day with “Tom,” a deaf man from New York who just needed some glasses and a haircut. Having been away from the deaf community for some time, I found it was difficult at first to communicate. However, as the day moved on, my signing skills improved. By the end of the day, I was signing with three or four other people and making another whole set of friends.

6. Bottom on the totem pole and perhaps most likely not to succeed (in the popularity sense), I still managed to beat Heidi Hawkins in the race for Freshman Class Secretary at Atherton High School in 1979. Mind you, it was very fortunate that I gave my speech behind a podium: Had my classmates seen my knees knocking uncontrollably, they would’ve laughed me out of the auditorium. I managed to deliver a flawless speech despite my obnoxious classmate “Fuzzy” making ridiculous faces at me while I spoke. (That is precisely why you’re not supposed to look at anybody when you’re on stage. You’re supposed to look just over their heads so you can avoid their unsolicited feedback.)

5. Sewing is one of those things that I’ve done for so long, it’s just no problem to pick it up, even after years without making anything. I’ve made everything from the tiniest doll baby clothes, to business dresses, and even a motorcycle seat cover. Some of my talents in this area are: cross-stitching; embroidery; smocking; dress-making; home decor items such as cornices, curtains, seatcovers, and pillows; knitting. I’m guessing most of you have never made a motorcycle seat cover before!

4. You know you know a language well when you can dream in that language… or at least that’s what Burnelle Espenshade, my St. Francis High School French teacher, told me. While no longer even remotely close to being conversational in any language except English, I’ve dreamt in French and American Sign Language. Dreaming in sign language is quite entertaining, for the dreamer and witness alike.

3. On the trip to Ghana mentioned earlier, I had the distinct and special privilege of being able to mediate while my cab driver and a man along the road negotiated whether or not said cab driver should purchase said man’s along the road kill for dinner. What was that night’s specialty? A gargantuan rat-like mammal that’s bigger than my dog, Sparkle (a bichon, shown elsewhere on this site). The two men were conversing in another language, while I sat in the passenger’s seat next to the open window, where the rat was dangling from the road guy’s raised hand.

2. In the winter storm of 1994, I had just started working at a hospital as a nursing assistant. I was taking organic chemistry, preparing to enter nursing school (which I decided against within a month of working in the hospital). It snowed 17 inches in Louisville, and the roads were, obviously, impassable–at least for cars. Eager to impress my boss for some unknown reason, my husband and I rode our mountain bikes to my work so I could help out. That was a memorable week at the hospital, with administrators and others on the business side of the hospital helping by cooking and serving meals for the patients. The camaraderie shown by all the workers in that difficult situation was memorable.

1. Way back when in 1987, while working for my sister’s future father-in-law at a local pharmacy, I was robbed at gun-point by two men wearing “pancake” make-up (aka foundation) and gray women’s wigs. It was early October–way too early to be dressing up for Halloween–and I knew the instant they walked in that they were going to rob us. The pharmacist was busy with a customer and completely clueless to what was about to happen. One guy approached the pharmacist and the customer and escorted them behind the counter. The other guy came to my register and demanded money. While you’d think I’d freak out and cry or get flustered or something, I managed pretty well. I looked the guy directly in the eyes, studied his facial features so I could recognize them later, and casually removed the money. I even took a moment to ask the guy if he wanted the checks too! Ha ha! Then he escorted me behind the counter. This is when I got nervous. I was terrified he was going to shoot me in the back as I walked to the counter. He didn’t. When we got back there, the other guy–who I also studied–was flashing a silver gun around, demanding Delodid–a powerful painkiller that was (maybe still is) a hot ticket item on the street. He told the customer and me to lay face-down on the floor spread-eagle. The customer was crying hysterically, but I still managed to hear the pharmacist tell the robber that he didn’t have any Delodid in the store. Not convinced, the robber said, “Give me your Delodid, or I’ll blow your head off.” The pharmacist replied, “Oh, yeah, I think I do have some here in the safe.” The nerve of the pharmacist! I was appalled that despite being told by his wife and co-owner during training that I should always give the robbers whatever they asked for, this pharmacist chose to risk all of our lives to avoid being out the cost of the Delodid. To this day, I am always nervous being in retail stores at closing time, especially when I’m one of the employees.

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Day 1: Novelty

Got some interesting news on Monday. Saw a new psychiatrist who after 20 minutes of conversation told me she was “not convinced” that I was bi-polar. Dr. D. indicated that I was “highly medicated” so starting that night, I was to reduce two of my medications by half, and then discontinue one of them after 10 days. My immediate reaction was wonderment; that changed to bafflement, uncertainty. I’ve grown accustomed to myself with this label “bi-polar,” and I’d begun to identify myself that way. Not to say I wasn’t also mom, daughter, sister, editor, writer. Not so at all. But bi-polar had become part of my vocabulary.

Day 2: Fatigue

One of the medications Dr. D. reduced for me is one that makes me really, really sleepy. Take it at 10:00, and at 10:15 I’m toast. Unfortunately, same was true in the morning: Up at 6:00, out the door at 6:30, and falling asleep at the wheel at 6:45. Not good at all. I’d taken to going to my mom’s to nap half-way to work, just so I’d keep I-64 safe for motorists. So, reducing this particular med was a good thing, right?

Not so fast. Tuesday, couldn’t get to sleep. Couldn’t stay asleep. Falling asleep at the wheel again.

Day 3: Rage

Wednesday, not sleeping well, dreams are vivid and exhausting. Now that Mom’s home from Turkey, she isn’t too thrilled with the idea of my “using” her place as a napping ground. “Laura, I’m worried about you.” (Greeeaaaattt.)

At work (late again), every little thing burns me up. You want to edit my work, Miss Associate? You think you know more than me? Fuck you, you picky-ass bitch! Boss man, I’ll send the work your boss gave you that you delegated to me to your boss so he knows that I did the work–not you. I’m not having him think you did it when I did. And by the way, Miss Assistant, you think you can keep my schedule for me? Tell people when I’ll do something? Bull-fucking-shit, you will.

Day 4: Confession

Step back, take a look. Something‘s not right here. Take a deep breath, walk away. Give the change in medication some time. Beg forgiveness from those who witnessed my palpable anger. Wrote a pretty good article. Cool!

Anger flaring again. Stupid, piece-of-shit cats wake me up again.

Day 5: Defeat

Oversleep. Force myself out of bed. Out the door in five. Trudge into work. Happy face; dull, defeated heart. “Managed” by her once again, fucking control freak. Livid, lifeless, languid.

Dr. D: Up the meds again.

Laura: fine?

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In a recent post, Tiffany wrote about her discomfort at a funeral she attended. A self-described atheist, Tiffany said in a comment that “the way I view death is very simple: You die. Your bodily and brain functions cease. That’s it — there is nothing more.” That comment really got me thinking about . . . life.

Specifically, I wonder, if there’s nothing more when you die, what is there when you’re alive? Are we truly nothing but water and muscle and bones and skin, with brain waves? What about the mind? Although I know that my brain sends messages throughout my body to do everything it needs to do to stay alive, my thoughts aren’t tangible. My brain activity can be measured, but my thoughts can’t. So do the thoughts really exist?

When you get a “gut feeling,” from where does it originate? For me, God speaks to me through gut feelings, through heart-wrenching and heart-singing feelings. I can’t fathom believing that those feelings are solely the result of brain functions, of synapses shooting messages around randomly (or methodically, for that matter).

If when you die there’s nothing more, then there is no soul. Regardless of what that means in terms of an existence after mortal life ends, what does it mean when you’re still alive? The soul and personality seem intertwined to me, so if there is no soul, what is personality? As someone who must deal with a brain chemical disorder (manic depression), you would think I’d believe that my personality is largely chemically based. But I don’t believe that. I believe I was born with an already-formed personality and that despite environmental influences and changes in brain chemicals, that personality remains. Same goes with a soul. I believe God formed my soul when He formed me, and nothing environmental or chemical can alter that soul.

What about you? What do you think?

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I have so many things to be thankful for this year: A new life in which I am an active participant, a daughter who is growing and thriving with her new Mom, a second job at a toy store where each shift is spent making little children happy, financial emancipation from my ex-husband… so many things. Now as I sit tapping away on my keyboard, I listen as my daughter and her two best-friend cousins play joyfully with their Littlest Pet Shop Bobbleheads, and as they sing made-up lyrics to the tunes of their favorite country songs. It is pure bliss!

Even so, my depression looms nearby, waiting for me to give in to its clutches. It is such a happy time of year, and yet I struggle so! I prepared one of my daughter’s favorite recipes–something that would normally bring such happiness–but I flail about, searching for God as my black mood bubbles over. I spent the day with the people on this earth whom I love the most, but I fight sadness.

But this time, I am going to win the battle. I am sure of this for several reasons: I am a new woman–a woman who has survived this battle time and time again; I am free from an empty marriage; I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter; and, most importantly, I am working with God to (as a good friend of mine often says) pull myself up by my bootstraps and prod on.

And so, despite the bleakness that sometimes surfaces, I am filled with joy! Joy stemming from thankfulness for my life; joy resulting from trust in Him.

Thank you, God, for everything!

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“Welcome back,” she says, a few days after the seroquel kicks in again. “It’s good to have you among the living.”

This time, not taking my medication is not intentional, but the result is the same: Thoughts are incoherant, except for those suggesting I’m incapable of doing my job, that I’ve fooled everyone into believing I can function independently. Still, I remain regenerate to the idea that maybe I am healed, maybe I will be okay without this mood-stabilizer.

For Kay Redfield Jamison, lithium is her lifeline; and, although she is a trained professional working with patients suffering from mood disorders, at one point she, too, tried to convince herself she could go it alone. Reading An Unquiet Mind should make one resolute about taking one’s meds–and in many ways, it does just that–but hearing about the allure of manic accomplishments, brilliant visions, and an inflated self-perception, a tiny piece of me says, “just maybe.”

Ultimately, I know not taking them is pure madness.

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Let’s get this straight from the outset: I love Jesus and am grateful for everything He’s done for me. He forgives me of my sins (of which I have many); He listens to me when I call on Him for support; He speaks to me when I need to mend my ways; and, of course, He atoned for my sins when He died on the cross. All of that is very important to me. Yet for a reason that is abundantly clear to me, I feel I have to justify why I believe what follows despite believing all of the aforementioned.

Let me explain.


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The bi-polar coaster is at full tilt yet again! I go from a woman who can conquer anything to a puddle of incapability in only a matter of days or even hours. Sometimes, the changes come by the minute.

Two days ago I was wondering how I was going to survive—literally—into the next week. Then yesterday and today, I am a happy, giggling participant in life. This ride drives me absolutely nuts! By staying on my medication and seeking solace within myself I convince myself I will be able to attain stability. But that long-term constancy is deceiving. It obfuscates the reality that I need to stay on my medication. After all, I feel great—surely my problems were strictly situational. I know that, so I can handle myself differently the next time the situation arises.


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