Friday, February 24, 2017

Bipolar Anxiety/Depression

I looked in the mirror this morning and finally admitted it to myself:

I have not been well since last fall.

Really crippling anxiety and OCD have tag-teamed me into depression. I am taking steps to recover by going to a group of therapists who specialize in OCD and anxiety; I am talking to my psychiatrist via his office's client email form in order to adjust medications; I am meditating; I am walking outside in the sunshine every day, I am eating healthier than previously, I am taking enough tranquilizers to put down a small elephant.

I am still barely able to stand it. It got so bad that I pleaded with my psychiatrist for an anti-depressant. He knows I don't ask for one unless I really need it due to the possibility for bipolar mania. He called me in a script for Zoloft. I have the bottle sitting on top of my coffee maker so I don't forget it in the mornings. Coffee-and-Zoloft mornings this week...mania be damned, I don't care right now. I don't want to feel this anxious, this upset and overwrought 24-7. I am doing everything right. It's so frustrating when that doesn't work.

I am still working part-time and going to school full-time. Thankfully, work has been slow and pressure and hours are low. I don't mind the tighter budget when that happens right now. School ends in May so I will have less stress and more time to practice self-care.

All I want is to be less anxious. Just less anxious, not even cured from anxiety. My OCD checking is back, and I either give into it or suffer through the abstaining. Intrusive thoughts frustrate me and send my panic attacks into high gear.

Zoloft will eventually kick in, and I will eventually be in a better mood. I will eventually have less anxious thoughts and the OCD will retreat somewhat.

For now, I wait. I am tormented by my mind, but I know it will pass.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Really Have Much to Write

My anxiety and OCD are throttling me, and I am barely keeping my head above water. I feel myself slipping into depression, which is scary.

I saw a counselor who specializes in anxiety and OCD this past week, and I have follow-up appointments with her in 3 weeks (She was booked solid until then). My anti-anxiety meds are not working currently, and my emergency sleeping pill stash is not working anymore. I am zombie today, but at least I managed to get through work. Now I need to take 2 exams for school.

I dropped out of the sky like a lead balloon yesterday. I've asked my psychiatrist to call me back, and I've requested to be put back on anti-depressants, despite the risk of a manic episode. I've also asked for a different anti-anxiety medication because I'm just used to taking Xanax, and it doesn't do a think for me anymore. I also asked for a different sleeping medication because I am apparently immune to Ambien after having taken it on and off for so long. It only works 2 or 3 days in a row before becoming worthless.

I'll write more when I'm feeling better.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Off to see the Anxiety/OCD Wizard!

My anxiety has been so off the charts lately that I've been questioning the level of treatment I am getting at my current psychiatrist's office (where I also see a counselor). My fear of change has kept me from seeing another mental health professional because I feel like I'm betraying my doctor and counselor.

But the truth of it is, I've been doubting my current treatments. My anxiety is off the charts. When I say "anxiety" to my current psychiatrist, he ups my dose of benzos. I hate taking benzos on a daily basis. I've gone back on sleeping pills this week just to take the edge off and get some rest. They worked for a few days, and stopped working again last night. I have a huge med hangover this morning. I had to pop half a Depakote at 11 last night to fall asleep.

I feel like a mess. My current doctor hasn't really taken my concerns about weight gain on anti-psychotics seriously, and he doesn't want to put me on an anti-depressant for OCD and anxiety. I get that because I'm bipolar, but I could really use some help in the anxiety-OCD department.

I did some research on specialists in anxiety disorders and OCD. I live in a small city with top universities, and I figured one of them has got to have some type of mental health branch.

I was right.

I found a university with an OCD-Anxiety clinic. I was floored. I checked out the website, and that is literally all they deal with (also will work with co-morbid conditions like bipolar). It took me several days to get up the courage to make a phone call. The receptionist was very nice. She asked me why I was calling. I told her anxiety and OCD have taken over my life the past few months, and that I needed more help than I was getting from my current mental health team. We agreed on an appointment time, which is this afternoon at 2:30. I have to drive an hour away, but I know it's worth it. When I get there, the receptionist told me to be prepared to be evaluated for an hour before my actual session starts. That includes paperwork and a meeting with some type of professional. Then, once I get past the gatekeeper (as I like to call it), I get to meet the specialist.

I am looking forward to this meeting. I have gotten to the point where I am tired of my anxiety and OCD kicking my ass. My current psychiatrist and counselor hear "manic" when I talk of anxiety. They focus on my racing thoughts, nervous energy...to them, everything I have is bipolar disorder. I disagree. I have been diagnosed with GAD and panic disorder as well, but they seem not to focus on that too much.

Honestly, anxiety and OCD are my most distressing problems. I can deal with my mood swings. I have family that helps me monitor my moods and provide me with feedback. I keep a mood tracker. I am on mood stabilizers.

Hopefully, this OCD-anxiety specialist hears "anxiety" and "OCD" and doesn't stop listening once she reads I have Bipolar Disorder. Not everything I go through is Bipolar-related.

I am optimistic; I will post an update later about the meeting.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Time to Get Raw About OCD

If you follow me on Twitter (@mindmyst), you know I have been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses: Bipolar 1, OCD, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, etc. Out of all of these, in my opinion, OCD has been the hardest for me (right now and over the past 1.5 years) as far as living day-to-day. I still have issues with my Bipolar Disorder, but I have not been hospitalized for 5.5 years and can generally tell when an episode is occurring, catch it early, and nip it in the bud with the help of my psychiatrist.

OCD provides no such warning, much like my panic attacks. They have been occurring together nowadays, a nasty little coupling of tormenting thoughts and sensations. Since it's been on my mind, I wanted to do a raw blog post about OCD and tormenting thoughts that I have personally experienced. A lot of OCD revolves around intrusive thoughts: thoughts that come unwanted into your mind and generally have disturbing images with them.

Such as:

When I was 7, I had intrusive thoughts about killing myself with a knife. I avoided going into the kitchen and avoided sharp objects.

When I was approximately 9 years old, I was afraid was I going to go crazy and kill my mom in her sleep. I would try to stay awake all night praying so that I wouldn't sleepwalk and go stab my mom. I went through our house and hid all the knives in high cupboards that I wouldn't be able to reach without a stool. I figured if I was sleep walking I wouldn't be able to figure out how to use a stool to get the knives to kill my mom.

When I was a pre-teen, I volunteered in the church nursery on Sunday evenings in the infant room. I had horrible intrusive thoughts that asked, "What if I'm a child molester subconsciously, and I go insane and hurt these babies?" I quit volunteering in the nursery.

When I was a teen, I would babysit. I would have intrusive thoughts that I would subconsciously hurt the kids, or accidentally start a fire. I quit babysitting.

When I was in high school, public restrooms were huge contamination factor for me. I also obsessed over my appearance, clothing etc, having to shower a certain way, wash my hair a certain way, check my appearance three times throughout the day. If I didn't do these rituals, something bad would happen and I would be humiliated in school. I would also spend a great deal of time driving and back-tracking because I was afraid I had hit an animal or a child with my car, and I would have to check to make sure I hadn't. I would also drive back and forth from school to check the front door to make sure I locked it, sometimes multiple times over periods of hours. I also had to say a prayer a certain way, and if I messed up, had to start over to "protect me" and my loved ones.

I started college and dropped out due to anxiety.

After I quit college, I began having to buy things in 3. Three was a lucky number to me and still is. I still buy things in threes or multiples of three sometimes. If I don't, something bad could happen. I don't even notice this compulsion sometimes. My husband will notice groceries in threes and mention it, whereas it is so common for me I don't realize I am doing it.

In my early 20s, I stopped watching shows with violence in them, or songs that were not perfectly pleasant and neutral. I was afraid I would be negatively influenced by them and then a "bad side" of me would take over and hurt people. For example, I love Law & Order, but I stopped watching it for several years just in case I went crazy, I didn't want to have many great ideas.

Mid-20s were spent dealing with Bipolar Disorder, hospitalization, etc.

Present day, early thirties. I am afraid of going to bed after 9:46 pm. If I go to bed later, I will not be able to sleep and then I'll hit someone with my car the next day. If I listen to upbeat music or watch an entertaining show after 6 pm, I will be too stimulated to sleep. So I make myself just sit there alone away from everyone else. If I read an interesting book after 6 pm, same thing. I can't eat after 6 pm, or I will have trouble falling asleep. I get anxious as the sun goes down. I start compulsive rituals such as taking a lot of melatonin, drinking sleepytime tea, checking and rechecking alarms. I can't sleep with anyone in the same room as me right now. It makes me want to vomit, it makes me so anxious.

I also have a weird thing with alarm clocks. I want to buy a lot of them so I am sure I will wake up on time. It's really hard not to give into this compulsion.

Now, someone without OCD will read this and think WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! You're crazy! You're insane! That's so bizarre/weird/messed up etc.

Yes. And we (OCD sufferers) feel horrible about having these intrusive thoughts. So we begin avoidance or compulsion behaviors to compensate.

In the case of being a pre-teen, I simply stopped volunteering at the church nursery. I had to go to church since my mom worked in one, so I elected to sit in with the adults in the sermon, thinking that I was evil and disgusting and should be in the sermons anyway. Or I stopped something else like babysitting, getting a job working with animals instead. Or I stopped listening to music I like or watching TV shows I like, because I was afraid of negative effects on me. Or I just stop living and enjoying my life, afraid I'm not going to be able to function; afraid of hurting someone or something; afraid of losing control and doing something horrible...

That's OCD. Right now, it's an anaconda around my neck, choking me tighter each time I let out a breath and try to struggle.

And it comes out of freaking nowhere!

In my city, there are quite a few top universities, and one of them has an OCD clinic. I am on the waitlist to see a counselor who specializes in OCD and anxiety. I am hoping that will provide me with some relief.





Monday, February 6, 2017

When Family Doesn't Understand Mental Illness

It's happened to every single person with a mental illness. There will inevitably be some point in your life that your family (or friends, if you don't have family members around) will not understand your mental illness. It rarely happens to me, because I am freakishly lucky with my family members. My husband is very supportive of me. There are still times, though, where he does not understand. I don't think it's possible for him to understand the inner fucked up working of my mind.

The past couple of days, I've watched as my sleep got worse and worse, and my anxiety surged forth and my OCD became front and center after weeks of it improving. My mood has started to change too -- from feeling weepy to hyper and back down again.

That's not good.

Last night was difficult. I had panic attacks all day, and we went to visit some family who lives about an hour away. As night fell, my OCD began to kick in. I have a weird thing that if I'm not in bed by 9:46 pm, I won't be able to fall asleep and my day will be ruined. We got home at about that time and I had a total meltdown, crying and upset. Now, I have already been having trouble sleeping, but able to function during the day with no problem. But for some reason, yesterday was really, really difficult.

My OCD/Anxiety demon has also really messed with me the past 2 days. I have a fear of sleeping with other people in the same room with me right now. I have been sleeping alone in the spare bedroom for the past 4 months. My husband got a bit irritated with me last night, asking why I wasn't sleeping with him in our master bedroom yet. I told him about the problems I am having with anxiety about sleeping with other people. It's weird and it's not logical and I don't like it. He became frustrated with me and tried to explain how illogical that was. I know it's illogical and weird, but I don't pick what my anxiety or OCD or Bipolar fixates on. For several years I couldn't use public restrooms for fear of contamination, and I could not use them if someone was in the bathroom with me, even if I had to go really bad. That went away when I was about 20.

It got so bad last night that I took a sleeping pill from an old prescription for the first time in four months, which makes me feel like a failure. But it knocked me out cold despite my panic and anxiety and obsessive thoughts. I emailed my psychiatrist and asked him if I could go back on sleeping pills. This constant battle at night to sleep is starting to wear on me. I was able to sleep while on Depakote, but had to discontinue due to side effects. I can't increase my Seroquel any more because that too causes weight gain, blood sugar issues, cholesterol issues...all of which I am trying to overcome right now. Xanax does nothing for me anymore as I believe I am immune to it after all these years of taking it on a nearly daily basis.

It upset me last night, though, when my husband told me I wasn't trying hard enough to overcome my OCD anxiety about sleeping at a certain time, and about sleeping with someone else in the room with me. I tried explaining that my OCD is not rational. It is illogical and silly. But it really fucking hard to deal with and I am doing the best I can. He didn't seem to think that. I went to bed while he silently played video games. I woke up and he is doing the same thing (He's been off work the past 2 days, not like he's a bum or something). I know exposure therapy is good for this kind of stuff, but I have a lot on my plate right now like school full-time, work part-time, and then trying to do the cooking and cleaning and taking care of our daughter. I feel too tired right now to fight more.

It was a huge, hurtful blow to hear from someone I trust so completely that I am unwilling to recover, I am coddling myself, I am not trying hard enough, I don't want to fight the OCD as hard as I need to, that it's basically all my fault. That's what I was told last night by my husband, and it was awfully hard to bear it. I sat in the guest bedroom and cried and wrote down how awful I felt.

I don't blame him for it. He can't understand what I am going through. He is a normal person without mental illness. He is mentally very sound and strong. I know it's hard for him sometimes when I am struggling. There is no quick fix or even a fix for what we with mental illness go through. It's bound to splash over onto our family members who are trying very hard to support. us. I hate myself for that, that it affects our family. We were planning a spring break trip to the Great Lakes, but I am so overwrought with OCD that I can't even think about sleeping in a hotel room with my husband and daughter. How fucked up is that? My OCD is ready to ruin a nice vacation that will make nice memories. I told my husband I didn't know if I could go, which is what set off this issue. I don't know. I don't know if I will be able to go.

I know this all due to my mental illness. Bipolar moods are swinging right now in the wind, and my OCD has me in a death grip all of a sudden. I know it'll improve. I am just not feeling well right now.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Side Effects of Bipolar Meds!


Many diagnosed Bipolar patients such as myself take multiple drugs to manage our disorder. While modern medicine has created drugs that help stabilize our moods, these drugs have a myriad of side effects, some really strange. I am going to talk about mood stabilizers I've tried and their side effects and mention some of the problems I've had with them.

Seroquel

I've had a great experience with this drug as far as stabilizing my mood. I've experienced weight gain over the past 5-6 years on it, but it's been manageable with diet and exercise. It helps me sleep, and I don't have that zombie feeling that many complain about.

Depakote

Depakote has been great in slowing down my manic and hypomanic states. However, in my latest go-around with Depakote, I gained 30 lbs in 3.5 months despite vigorous exercise and eating well. The weight gain has brought on a whole host of problems such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. My GP is the one who yanked me off Depakote ASAP, while my PDOC wanted to give it some more time. Ultimately, I sided with my GP that there were other avenues worth exploring, and that Depakote was ruining my body. I am cutting my dosage in half each week. I have 6 more days before I am off of Depakote completely.

Lamictal

Lamictal is apparently a very popular Bipolar drug. I took it for a year and saw no improvements or differences to my cycling moods, and my hands started to have involuntary tremors at a high dose. I quickly tapered off of this med for that reason.

Gabapentin

Gabapentin is now being used in the psychiatric setting as both a sedative and a mood stabilizer, according to my psychiatrist. The primary reason I started Gabapentin last week was to take the place of Depakote's sedating effects. I am on a fairly low dose now (200mg) and I have not experienced any side effects in the past week. I'll have to give this one more time, though.

Abilify

I took Abilify for about 6 months, and it made me so depressed and suicidal I was almost hospitalized. I gave it that long for it to "kick in," but it turns out that it was already "kicked in" and kicking my ass. So that one's out.

I haven't tried Lithium or Risperdal. My psychiatrist doesn't like Lithium due to the potential for toxicity. I know people online who have taken Risperdal and gained a ton of weight, so that's out for me.

As a goal, I'd eventually like to be taking as low a dose of an atypical mood stabilizer as possible. Feel free to leave a comment if you've taken any of these drugs and experienced side side effects.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Katelyn Nichole Davis Lost Her Battle Part 2

I have received a phenomenal amount of views on my first post about how Katelyn Nicole Davis lost her battle to mental illness. I'm currently #4 on Google search for her name. I've read some more things about her life, and I wanted to write about them today.

 Here's the video I watched for this post. It is hard to glean the entirety of her family situation based on a Youtube video, but some disturbing things come to light about Katelyn Nicole Davis' family life.

It seems there are a lot more facts coming out that are really, really hard to fathom. Some of the things I am reading on the Facebook page Justice for Katelyn Nicole Davis. I can't confirm any of the allegations against her mom and stepdad and her boyfriend, but it seems that she had a horrid family life. She accused her stepfather of molesting her on one of her blogs. Watching some of her videos (where she secretly recorded fights with her mother), it's clear that she had very little support from her mom. Fights between adolescents and their parents are common, but hearing Katelyn's mom scream things like, "Katie, shut your goddamn mouth!" and "I can't wait until you're 18 and move out!" makes it pretty clear that their relationship was volatile. In the same video, she accuses her mom of prostituting herself out for pain medication. I don't know if those things are true or not. Furthermore, in the same video, Katelyn tells her mom that her boyfriend told her he had murdered someone, and Katelyn's mother responds, "It ain't my problem, don't take it out on me." Another chilling fact in that video is when Katelyn tells her mother that she was violated by her stepdad, and her mom says "I know, but is he here?" as if that makes it ok. Katelyn's mother also responds to her two smaller children as "my children," excluding Katelyn, as if Katelyn is not her child.

What can I say to that? Nothing. There is nothing that I can say to that except Katelyn was a very troubled child who lived in a ramshackle home with a ramshackle family. Many of these videos were recorded close to Katelyn's suicide, and I have no doubt that the video I linked to above had something to do with it. I can't imagine being 12 and having my mom scream profanities at me.

Another thing I can't quite understand is that no one watching the livestream contacted the authorities, except for one lone police officer in California who just happened to come across it and phone the department where Katelyn lived in Georgia. It seems Katelyn Nicole Davis had no advocates, which is stunning to me. I wonder how many other Katelyns are out there, struggling with a mental illness and a disturbing family with no hope and no recourse.

RIP Katelyn.