Friday, 27 January 2012

It's Kind of Like being a Virgin Again

My sexuality has been greatly affected in the past year or so.

When I am feeling more manic, I experience hypersexuality. It explains much of my exploits when I was a teenager, and many times since then. I honestly cannot have sex enough. When I am depressed, however, it's the last thing on my mind. It's like my body doesn't even feel the touch - there is no response. It is horrible for me, and even more awful for Andrea.

My medications also complicate things. With the Divalproex I am quite lucky. It isn't very extreme when it comes to reducing libido - in fact, its one of the best mood stabilizers out there when it comes to sexual side effects. The effexor, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Effexor's affect on sex drive is quite high. As many as 75% of people taking effexor experience these effects - and I can say for certain that I am one of them. So with those medications, plus my general depressed mood - it's making sex really hard for me.

But there is one more thing...

All these medications, all these therapies, all this time has changed the physical way sex feels. It's like being a virgin again in the sense that I am nervous because I have no idea what's coming. No idea what is going to feel good. Worried that something might hurt, or worried about pleasing Andrea. It's all new again. Except, that I have complete recollection of how things used to feel. It's both frustrating and annoying, and completely overwhelming.

And then I feel awful for Andrea who has to bear the brunt of all of this and now feels that I don't want to be intimate with her, that I don't find her attractive. Really, that's not the case at all. Really, it's about me. But, I can't get her to understand that.

Bi-polar has affected every single aspect of my life.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Blog Review

I was going through some archived entries of blogs I follow, when I found This one . Its called I Can't Get Pregnant, I have Bi-Polar"

I was pretty shocked when I read this. Here, an advocate for normalizing the illness, finding treatments that work, and a seemingly very intelligent woman is exclaiming that bi-polar (though not in and of itself) is a good reason not to have children. She does say in her piece that this is for her only and not for others, but, by that same account she ends her piece with:

" Now I know, many people have two-parent households, in which case, good for you, but I have to say, if you’re considering having a child, you ought to consider what single-parenting is like as there is a fairly decent chance it will come down to that as is obvious simply due to the divorce rate.

So, good if you have two parents, but heaven forbid you are single - you cannot possible have a child if you are bi-polar.

I have been diagnosed as bi-polar, and I have four children - and I am planning one more in the future with Andrea. I am very lucky that I have a supportive partner living in the home, as well as a supportive ex. And all of the author's reason seem sound: the medications are bad for pregnancy and breastfeeding, genetics, being a good parent when moods shift rapidly - but let's look at those more closely.

Medications
It is true, there are a lot of medications that are contraindicated for pregnancy and breastfeeding. But there are also a lot of medications that can be taken safely. High-potency antipsychotics like Hadol are considered safe for use during pregnancy , and Lithium a very common mood stabilizer is considered safe in all trimesters save the first. Its effects during the third trimester are no more serious than having an epidural: trouble feeding, sleepiness etc.

There are also several other conditions, both physical and mental that have medications that are contraindicated for pregnancy but how many women have popped an aleve for a migraine or taken pepto-bismal; both of these things are a no-no. the fact remains that the choice to get pregnant while on any medication needs to be discussed with a doctor to ensure the safest pregnancy possible for both mom and babe.

Gentics
The article also states that genetics play a factor, and that if both you and your partner have a psychiatric illness that you should just "sign your kid of for a psychiatrist right now." Of course genetics play a factor - they always do. But who are we, as a society, to determine what the ideal person should be. There is no guarantee that a child born of two bi-polar individuals will be bipolar - but the fact that there exists a chance means they shouldn't even try. What about cases of cancer survivors, or PKU, or diabetes, or even obesity - all of these have genetic factors. Are we really going to come to a time when we say that two overweight people cannot have children because they are more likely to have an overweight child and we deem that an unacceptable way of life?

Not Being A Good Parent
Now, I won't deny that those who are bi-polar who are going through an episode or who are not being treated may go through periods where they are not stellar parents. Their moods preside over everything else, and they can't focus on anything beyond that. But the same can be said for 'normal' parents. Further, I know I parent my children a lot better than the mother who beats her children. I may need extended quiet times, but I still love my kids, I would still give everything for them, and I am still able to parent them.

When did it become okay to rate the level of "good" parenting. What are the standards of good, what happens if people without disorders aren't good?

The author is perfectly entitled to her own opinion, and I am completely comfortable with her choices for herself. She doesn't feel that she is capable of having children - and that's 100% fine. My problem comes in when she gives out facts and strong opinions that seem to imply that no bi-polar adult should become a parent.

All that being said - I really love her blog.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Two steps back and one step forward

Nights are hard, I really don't want to go to bed. It is mildly to do with not wanting to do the requisite before bed tasks - but there is something else as well. Even when I am in bed I find myself laying there for what feels like hours (and sometimes it is) sometimes stressing, sometimes worrying, sometimes just laying there thinking nothing at all. I tried taking a Zyprexa the other night, and it did help me go to sleep but even at the lowest dose I have (2.5Mg) it still left me feeling super groggy and dull the next day. I don't like feeling like that.

I had emailed Wiggers on Monday saying that I was out of refills, though the pharmacy had given me an emergency supply, and telling him that though I felt better overall, I'm still down overall. I still cut on average of once a week, I write on my body, I still contemplate suicide and sometimes think of ways I could die (either by accident or on purpose) in order to calm myself down. I wanted him to understand that though these seem to be working, I guess, I'm still not at baseline, or even close to baseline - though I am a lot closer than I was before. He emailed me back, thanking me for the update, saying he refilled my prescription, and that I needed therapy or a support group. That was it. It was the most uncaring email that I've read from him and it hit me hard. I know he sees a lot of patients, and I know I am not the most in need, but I actually thought that some part of him cared about his patience - whereas now I feel like merely a file number, or a nuisance to him. I am not sure I will email him again before the 6 months when my prescription is due to run out again....that's right..another 6 months on these pills. *sigh*

I have had a sudden urge to take beeswax crayons to canvas. I don't know why. The feel of beeswax is pristine, and there is something about canvas that just seems to bring colour to life; but I've never seen the two together. It feels like an emotional need of sorts. Some sort of freeing exercise. But I really want to finish Kahlan's sweater too, and Romans, and Teo's and Roman's slippers. So there isn't a lot of time for soulful activities. But I feel it needs to be done, and I don't even have a vision for what it will look like. Maybe one day this weekend when the kids are gone I'll put on some nice music and draw my picture and see what comes out. Man..that whole paragraph sounded so fruity. But I guess part of this emotional journey is getting in touch with things that fill my cup.

Friday, 20 January 2012

My Admission

I told my mom last night.

Now I know that no one out there really knows my mom, but her and I haven't had the best relationship for probably about 10 years or so. We have both said some really hurtful things to each other, but I guess as is the case with family there is something that causes us to forgive them, even if it takes a little bit of time. We find a way to move on. So has been the case with my mother for many years, and I suspect we will have many more bumps and hiccups to come.

She took me out for a bite to eat last night as I was stranded away from home for 3 hours in the cold. She offered to drive me home from work sometimes, and asked when I was done - I told her, and she asked what goes on on Thursday afternoons that causes me to be out early. Thursdays are the days I go to that DBT support group thing.

I guess I have been wanting to tell her for a while. She is my mom, and with Andrea getting more and moire exhausted bearing the weight of all my emotional issues, I guess I just wanted someone else to hear it all. So I told her. I told her about all the meds, the hospitalizations, the diagnosis..everything. I left some details out like the cutting, the belt strangulation, and the writing things on my body - no mother needs to have that image of her child in her head.

She was supportive, and surprised but said it makes sense. She said my doctor seems like a quack because of all the different meds I've tried in such a short period of time. She thinks I should go to an inpatient facility to detox my body so I can get on some meds that actually work. It was weird, and comforting, and uncomfortable at the same time.

And then I went home. And the weight of it all came crashing down on me a little again. The not getting the job I wanted, the threat of losing the job I have, the worthless and hopeless feelings. I have been feeling overall very down lately and it was amplified last night.

But I powered through - kind of. I had a nice evening with Andrea. I brushed her hair and we snuggled on the couch. And then it was time to go to bed - and like so many nights in the old house I just couldn't do it. I wasn't ready to do the things that needed to be done, and I wasn't ready to face my own sleep demons. So I sat on the couch under a blanket and stared out my living room window. Kahlan woke later and I tucked her back in, did the things, and went to bed with Andrea - who was already asleep.

I feel at a new vulnerable place. More people know, more people have the potential to know...and I don't know how I feel about that. But it's too late now.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Missing in Action

I haven't posted in nearly two weeks.

The truth is, I've been in a really weird head space for the past little while. I feel better, and I feel worse.

I have cut my leg horribly on two occasions, written horrible things about myself on my body in sharpie to serve as a reminder, cried, cursed, and over reacted when I didn't need to. But I have also laughed, and snuggled, and forgotten how broken I can feel. It's painfully bittersweet.

Andrea has suggested, at least twice now, that maybe I am just attached to the label - because it's easier to be depressed because it's what I know. I can see that in some ways, habits are habits for a reason. But at the same time I would never *chose* to write the things I write on myself, even if it were easier. I would never *chose* to continue to be a burden to her. I know, sometimes, I can feel myself sinking into old behaviours or habits that cause my feeling low - and I try to get out of them (sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail), but other times I'm just there: experiencing it, living it, being unable to escape it.

I feel like a different person than I did 3 months ago. I feel more stable, in a way. I feel like I am at a place, sometimes, where I can handle my ups and downs. I'm pretty good at managing things when I feel an up coming - a few have happened that I think (I hope?) have gone unnoticed. And I'm getting better at the downs - it's just hard. I know I am being watched. I know every down is more draining for her, more frustrating, more everything. I don't expect her to be available to me to help get me out of everyone of them; I need to be able to do that on my own, but I am still learning how. I am still learning how to survive with myself the way I am now. I am still learning how to function with my brain chemistry working the way it does now. I wonder if it will ever go back to 'normal' or if I will always have episodes, and frankly - I can't have it matter too much. If I obsess over being normal I will just feel like shit.

This is who I am right now. I experience manic episodes. I experience very low lows. I still need help. I am stronger than I was before, but I am still new. I am still learning. One day this will either be a thing of the past, or I will have a firm hold on how to live with my disorder.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Back at the Start

I feel like I'm back where I was before I got depressed. Which I guess is a good thing. I'm not as crazy or crying all the time or whatever as I have been the last few months (several months I guess), but I'm back to where I started. I've been depressed for over a year and a year of different therapies, and medications and what not I'm just back to where I started, only I'm a lot weaker and really scared.

I feel those same feelings I did before; the what do I have that's mine, what do I like about myself, what's the point of my life, thinking I have no self worth etc etc etc..they are all still there. Despite the therapies, and attempted suicides, and hospital stays the thoughts are still there. What's to stop me from going down that same road again? I don't have the strength I did 9 months ago to endure this again. I am so scared that because nothing has changed within me that it's not going to get better - that I just have to deal with the fact that this is my life.

I don't think it's because of my lack of trying. I tried psychotherapy - but stopped, and I was feeling like my therapist didn't think he could help me any longer. I tried art therapy - where I learned I have issues stemming from my childhood, and from my mother. It did make me think about my mom and childhood differently but the tools given to overcome those issues (acknowledge the problem, don't resist it, your mind knows how to deal with it if you don't fight it) just wasn't working. I was doing a DBT workbook but breathing exercises and baths just weren't doing it either. I tried tapping (or EFT), and while that did allow me to process some sexual abuse from when I was younger it wasn't helping with the problems I was experiencing right then and right now. Now I am in that support group - I'm trying to use some of their tools, but what good is standing up for things that I want, when I really don't know what I want, and really don't know what I need. What's there to stand up for?

I have nothing that's mine because I don't know what I want. I have no goals because I have no dreams, no desires. I don't like who I am, and don't value myself. Maybe if I valued myself I would like myself, and if I liked myself I would have dreams, and if I had dreams I would know what I wanted.

Makes me wonder if I would still be here if I hadn't started any therapy or meds at all, if I had just done it on my own. But we'll never know.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Manic

So I'm on the effexor and the exhaustion has come back, and I experienced a manic episode on the 30th. I can see now how it was growing: my angry day, my "need" to do things and keep busy, my suddenly very enhanced sex drive (rather than the slow coming back up like it had been doing since stopping the zyprexa), and then on the 30th I just lost it mentally. My skin was bothering me, I couldn't sit still, my mind was racing. I told Andrea I was going to bed and she made me tell her why. Truth is I didn't want to see where my mania would take me so I thought I could just sleep it off. She told me I should take some Zyprexa - and I did. Within 20 minutes I was calm, and within 30 I was passed out. The next day is a blur. I couldn't wake up properly at night to parent. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and when I finally did I couldn't actually function. I just couldn't wake up until about 11:00a, and even then all day I was quiet and off, and not really there. It was an awful state to be in and I wonder if that's what's to be expected. I felt a little bit manic yesterday, but it just felt hyper it didn't feel destructive or overwhelming so I didn't take anything for it.

I've lost the ability I had a few short weeks ago to just embrace the way I look for now. It was blissful, and while I am not obsessing over it, or depressed by it (yet), It's still on my mind. My biggest obstacle is not my want (or need) to do it, it's actually finding time. I know, just make time, but honestly when? If I could find time I probably would do them...I think..IDK..its been so long now.