frayed part 2

My psychiatrist, Dr. F, is a good guy. I know this because he is very patient with me, and has never asked me ‘And how does that make you feel?’. Whenever I’m asked that, I always have the idea that the doctor is not in. I know they teach that question in school (I’ve taken enough Psych classes to know), but if you ever find yourself asking someone that then I would have to say there are better questions that you’re not asking. But anyway…

His office is on the second floor of a building in an industrial park. On one side of the landing is a large window overlooking Route 44 and the parking lot. I arrive for my appointment early, since I’m having issues and I don’t want to miss it. The office is not opened yet, so I walk back down the hall to the landing and stare out the window to watch the cars go by. After what feels like an hour, but is really about five seconds, I walk back to the office; still locked. I start to pace.

When I get in to see him, I say hello and ask how his vacation was. I’m not really able to listen to his answer, since I’m there to talk about me, and he senses this. Answers ‘It was nice.’ and procedes to ask me what’s up.

I tell him about the manic spurts, the mood swings, lack of sleep, everything. He asks questions, which I start to answer before he finishes. I want to impress upon him that I’m having trouble here. What kind of impulsiveness? Spending. Not a lot, but enough to know that I shouldn’t go the mall. What do you mean by restless; do you do anything constructive? Ha! No…

Any euphoria?

Oh yeah.  Of course if I could keep that, I wouldn’t complain! (har har har).

I am on the edge of my seat throughout. I am funny, nervous, and talk rapidly. He is talking, and I’m thinking ‘I hope he gets it’ when he says ‘…and you’ve never been hospitalized?’

Suddenly I am in this conversation completely. ‘Umm…no…’ Hadn’t thought it was near that point, really….

He hands me a ‘script for Risperdal, which I have had before. The thinking is that I need something that works fast, like right-now-fast, and since it’s not accompanied by the Lamictal I may not have the problems I had before (cognitive blunting).

I fill the ‘script and take one right away. In an hour I am asleep in bed. I sleep for a good three hours. I wake up, not wanting to move. Ever.

The next few days were fine. Minor headaches, which I attribute to lack of caffeine. I take Advil or Excedrin (which has caffeine, but I figure the little bit won’t be that bad).

Today I awake at 3 am with a headache, but am too zonked from the Risperdal and Lorazepam to move. I go back to sleep, and wake up at nine with a blinding migraine. Dizziness, nausea. Great start to the day. I take Excedrin, and after a while I feel good enough to run some errands, since I won’t sleep anymore today.

About noon I’m feeling better, and start a little exercise when it hits me again. Blinding pain. I look up the possible reactions to Risperdal, and start ticking them off. I get to 5, and figure that must be the culprit.

That’s the hardest part of this illness; the hit-or-miss nature of medication. I’ve thought a lot about this lately. The more I look at people I know who have Bipolar and swear they are fine off meds, the more I see issues they are avoiding, symptoms they are ignoring. I fell for it, too; you feel completely fine. It’s like being in remission. For some people they can go years without a major episode, but there’s always something about their behavior that’s off.  What they say or how they say it. What they do. We Bipolars tend to self-medicate when we’re off ‘official’ meds, too. We’re known for it. We seek, usually unconsciously, what drives the mania and banishes the blackness. We feed it, like a hungry god, hoping it won’t turn on us. Won’t go away.

But it does. Always.

There is as much to fear during a manic episode as there is during a depressive one. More Bipolar deaths are from actions taken during a manic phase, when we’re simply not paying enough attention to the danger of whatever we’re doing, than people realize.

So; you’re looking for the bottom line. That is: I’m doing better. More in control. I know I need to switch meds again, and I’m fine with that. I’ll be able to hold on until we figure this thing out. I was able to sit meditation for a full 20 minutes on Thursday; the first time in weeks. All we can do from here is go forward. Be here now, as the saying goes, even though ‘now’ might be very difficult to be in. I still vaguely want to be in tomorrow, when this is better.

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