I may be bi-polar, but I'm medicated

A little window into the bi-polar world

Archive for the tag “anxiety”

In the Coffin


Isolation is like being locked in a coffin, only this time, the locks are all on the inside. There is no sensation, no input, nothing to bother you or take your attention away from yourself.


Short periods of isolation are sometimes a good thing. Everyone needs a time-out. It’s just that the longer you isolate yourself, the better it feels and anxiety about coming out into public again grows. It takes great strength of heart, mind and body to loose those locks and sit up in the land of the living again. If I were a dog trainer (which I am) I would say that it takes a vast amount of desensitization and counter-conditioning to perform the feat.


Eventually, you must just bite the xanax and bear into the task. It’s better for everyone that you are a monkey-like participant in life and not holed up like a turtle in its shell.


This taking care of business


For a bi-polar person, taking care of another person is akin to a misguided attempt at suicide. This effect is heightened if the person being cared for is emotionally close to the bi-polar. This happens even if the job lasts only a few short days. Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor recently had his appendix taken out. Not a big deal, right? For me it was a huge deal. I wanted so terribly to show my appreciation for him. He has taken a lot of baloney from me in my altered moods. Why then shouldn’t I be able to get him jello and fluff his pillows for a couple of days?


I’ll tell you why…it becomes so overwhelming just to see your loved one uncomfortable that you can hardly bear it. You are so depressed from the change in routine, watching someone suffer, and the extra chore burden. Even if it’s routine, the disease makes the Himalayas out of a molehill.


Okay, now you’re depressed and noticing the signs in yourself. That person you normally turn to when moods abound is sick or hurt, in fact they are so busy getting better you have no support. What do you do? Try and compensate of course. You try to stay on your meds and try to do something good for you each day. The problem is that the guilt piled on you for taking your attention away from your loved one is unbearable. This guilt is somehow self-imposed and non-negotiable. Even though your loved one would revel in you taking care of your own moods before a crisis, you are already set down that road, with no way to turn back.


With the depression and compensation going on, you begin to bounce like a rubber ball. Off the walls, floors and ceilings you careen with your emotions already out of control. Next thing you know, you are unstable, in denial, and unable to seek help. That’s what you get from this taking care of business.

The Great Wall

At times in the life of a bi-polar worry becomes a wall.  All encompassing, treacherously high and heavily fortified, it is a wall that does not fail to lock you inside, away from all of life.


There are certain tactics that you can use when you encounter this worry wall, and any or none of them may reap you success.  For instance, you can attempt to carve or find one small foothold after another with desensitization and counter-conditioning focused on the topic of your current worry.  This is a long, arduous task and you must be careful not to look upon the way you came, for it puts you at risk for falling back to the ground at square one.  Another way to get past it is to simply bombard through with your stubbornness and willpower.  This is a definite test of character and only the stoutest can erode the fortifications, even a small amount.  You can look for a door or a window by visualizing all is as it should be, and all will be as good as it can be.  This works well if there is in fact, a soft spot in the wall, willing to open up and permit you back into the world.  You can try to move the circumference of the wall circling you by attacking one fear at a time, slowly gaining ground.  The danger here is that you can lose ground too as new worries become obsessive instead of abating.


In the end, you have to figure out how you will deal with your own wall and hope that those close to you understand that you are not distancing or isolating yourself to spread dismay.  You pray that they will rather understand you are trapped.  Although it may seem vaporous in nature, it is as real and solid as any wall ever erected.  It is uncomfortable and real, in spite of the fact that it is easy to dismiss these global fears unless you are the one experiencing them.


Very seldom do you see a bi-polar with a simple diagnosis. There always seem to be co-morbid diagnoses and these are a little like playing the game jacks.


You get sick, bounce the ball and pick up one jack – bi-polar. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control, you bounce the ball again, with a diagnosis of OCD. Bounce again and you pick up the previous two diagnoses and an anxiety disorder. On and on it goes, each bounce forcing you to pick up more jacks. Eventually, you can’t handle them all and you lose the game by being hospitalized or starting over with a new physician. Then you start over again.


It is hard to talk about only one diagnosis when there are so many in your hand. It is sometimes even difficult to separate which symptoms come from which disorder. Sometimes the jacks get jumbled up together and you can’t pull them apart – in other words, you occasionally have instances when you don’t know whether the anxiety is causing you discomfort the bi-polar is the source of trouble – or the PTSD or agoraphobia, etc. etc. What you are cognizant of is the difficulty of functioning throughout your daily life.


Through medication and counseling you can decrease the number of jacks you are required to pick up by minimizing symptoms. Anxiety can be calmed with xanax, bi-polar can be moderated with lithium, PTSD can be assisted with hypnotherapy. The idea is to use any resource available to reduce your requirement to one jack at a time (regardless of which one you pick up.) so you can continue to win the rounds with ease.



At the Carnival

I see major change as a fun house.  You step into a menagerie of twisted reality that only parallels the world outside.  Altered views of self and those around you are the play mirrors, and the world as you know it shifts as the floorboards, mechanically under your feet.  In the background, a bi-polar reel of maniacal music and laughter add to the confusion and chaos.


Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor and I have different desires and ways of dealing with the fun house.  He tends towards excitement and every day there is a new way for him to point out the fact that major change is happening in our household.  He seems more than content to play through the craziness again and again.


I see the change as something scary and unreal.  I don’t want to get caught up in the experience for fear that I may somehow get lost in the maze, unable to find my way to the end of the ride.The shifting floors cause me to lose my balance, the mirrors distort my vision and the ever present melodies remind me of a horror movie. I live in terror of being forgotten or found shivering in a huddle at the end of the day, when the ride shuts down with the depression of my senses.  It is for this reason I try to downplay the exhilaration.  Although I know you cannot attend the carnival of life without visiting the funhouse, I would like for it (and the roller coaster) to be a single visit.


I battle everyday with the giddiness Trusty shows, eagerly doling out tickets to relive the thrill that I call mania.  I try to belittle the facts, hoping that I can talk him out of a repeat performance for the day.  What I don’t do is state flatly my reluctance to go on the ride, and I surely don’t give my reasons.  Who wants to admit being afraid of the funhouse?  I know it is natural for him to revel in recent accomplishments, and I love him, so I don’t want to demean him or his efforts.  I just wish there was a way that he could enjoy the volatile atmosphere while I waited safely behind the gates of the entrance/exit sign.

My Pot Boileth Over

If being stressed is akin to turning a burner on under a pan of water, being bi-polar is like putting a lid on the pot.  It is never good for anyone, but in the bi-polar, stress can have dramatic effects that set you back months or even years in your treatment.


With no way for heat to escape, the water begins to bubble quickly with panic attacks suddenly coming out of the blue.  There appears to be no trigger whatsoever.  You are unable to control what you don’t understand and the reason for these is mystical.  You can go months without even the hint of a panic attack and then all of the sudden, after a stressor hits hard, have several bouts of boiling emotion each day, severe enough to require medication.


Emotions run amok as the pot boils over and medications that used to keep you stable are less helpful or completely ineffective.  This means you have to go back to the drawing board and either increase your dosage (if that’s even possible) or go hunting in the dark, guessing which chemical is out there that will calm your episodes and turn down the heat.


In the mean time, the bi-polar experiences extreme highs and lows that cause erratic behavior.  Just as the water is displaced in the pan, this behavior can be severe. It can cost money in lost or damaged items or worse, support in lost or damaged relationships.  Friendships are particularly at risk.  The cordial, uncommitted way that buddies develop means there’s really not all that much vested in the relationship as a whole.  Kind of like trying to pick up the boiling pot from the burner with bare hands, there is a risk of burning the relationship.  Bi-polars go through extreme changes every couple of years and it is uncommon to find one with a friend that outlasted even one of those transformations.  The short lived buddy status does not lend itself to the insulatory requirements of a hot pad in dealing with the temperatures of a bi-polar reacting to undue stress.  This in turn leads to a retraction of friendly support at a time when it is the most sorely needed.  The hand pulls back, leaving the pot to boil on the hot burner.  Also, the lack of support leads to symptoms flying even more away from the norms of society, effectively placing the pot squarely on the burner to reheat quickly.  This creates a vicious cycle.


Also like the boiling water, it takes a while for the water to cool even after the heat is removed.  There is an effect that lasts far longer than the stressor.  It’s a slow process.  As the temperature drops a single degree at a time, the instability becomes solid one moment at a time.  Eventually, the water returns to room temperature and the stressed bi-polar returns to normal behavior.

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