Self-Check

Over the past 4 months a lot has happened, all for the better BUT because of all the sudden change my mood has been affected greatly.

I was married (and started living with someone that I’ve never lived with before – heck I’ve never even had a room mate before, aside from my younger sister), I moved to a new city (in a completely different province), I got a new job (#dreamjob), I lost my medical support that I had built relationships with since my initial diagnosis (they were replaced with a new make shift support), and I moved away from all of my family (whom I am very close with and are another major support system).

Lots of change!

I like to think that I have managed well, but it has been a challenge and my husband has picked up on my mood flux.

Things have been happening that I am grateful for but there has been a lot of change to navigate thru. My husband is beyond supportive, patient and understanding, he has tried to take on the roll of the support team for nearly everyone that I left behind which is a big job to do – dare I say even unfair.

For probably 3 out of the 4 months after my move I was in a low, it was exhausting. I was trying so hard to not let my mental state impact my new job and especially my marriage. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer- hellooooo my husband and I are still supposed to be in our honeymoon phase. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy over the course of the 4 months BUT that has been simultaneously been happening while I’ve felt pretty darn low and felt like I was losing my footing. If that even makes sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I have sought medical support and I am trying to build a support system here (and not pin it all on my husband). I have a new psychiatrist – she is nice enough. However, I am still not overly confident in our connection. Our first encounter she told me I had everything together and was absolutely fine. She told me she wasn’t even concerned about ordering my file from my previous hospital…. okay then. You would think that being the case she would delve in and ask me about my history – nope, that did not happen. I have seen her a few times, the last two were better than the first. I contacted her regarding my sleep, because I wasn’t sleeping (we are talking the entire time after my move) – red flag that I am not okay shall we say. Anyways she prescribed me Zopiclone, I took the higher dose that she offered and it didn’t even make me blink. I tried it for 2 weeks and nada. So I went back to see her, at this point she seemed a little alarmed, because heaven forbid I actually wasn’t a perfect patient and actually needed medical support to navigate my diagnosis of bipolar II.

Anywho, she prescribed me two new medications, one of which is for anxiety and the other for sleep. This concoction in addition to my medication medley that I already take has seemingly given me back the sleep that I needed and consequentially my mood has regained a bit more stability – NEVER doubt the impact that good or poor sleep hygiene can have on your mood.

So where am I now in terms of the medication I take? I will give you a break down, please remember that everyone is unique in terms of what medication they require for their individual case.

120 mg – Latuda – Mood Stabilizer
250 mg – Lamotrigine – Anti-Depressant
100 mg – Trazodone – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication) (new)
30 mg – Oxazepam – Anxiety (new)
100 mg – Quetiapine – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication)

My medication has been a journey all of its own, being refined and tweaked and changed over YEARS. My medication medley has been consistent the past year aside from the new additions now for my anxiety and sleep, however if we look at all the change that has occurred in my life, it is no wonder my sleep and anxiety were impacted as of late. It is so important for us to be self aware. It is so important for us to hold self-checks, to see what variables have changed and how our mood/sleep has been impacted.

Without being aware of ourselves how can you monitor the impact the medication has or doesn’t have on you? How can you measure the impact your surroundings or peers have on you? Without having a constant which is YOU, how can you measure all of the changing variables in different scenarios. As ironic as it is, you are the constant, bipolar mood changes and all. As you become more adept to your moods, what they look like, what triggers a cycle, then you will realize you are indeed a constant in the equation of life and everything else is a variable. That is powerful information that can transform the way you look at who you are and the life you are living or want to be living.

Also, ***key note*** my medication has changed and has been tweaked and throughout it all I HAVE ALWAYS TAKEN MY MEDICATION. High or low I always took my medication, I can’t emphasize that detail enough! How are you going to find out what medication works for you if you don’t take it. Sure, at times it seems like life would be a heck of a lot more fun without it OR perhaps it’s annoying taking it day in and day out OR alternatively you feel like its not doing anything at all and you are fine without it OR it is making you feel even worse. Let me be clear and say that unless the doctor told me I could stop taking medication during the trial period, I took the medication, I documented side affects, I asked questions, I documented mood changes, outliers and when my doctor received my feedback we made changes accordingly, whether that was with the dose or scrapping the medication and moving onto a new one all together. IF you do not take the medication, how will you know the impact it has on you.

Recovery is a choice, choices require action. Be actively engaged in your medication process – don’t sit back and expect everything to work out without raising a finger or opening your mouth to offer an input about your own health. That my friends is just a cold reality of the recovery process.

I am still adjusting, I am still checking in with myself.

I’ve found a therapist where I live and I plan to meet with her once a month. My mental health is a priority and I hope you make yours a priority too. Sure she isn’t my previous psychologist…. nothing like him BUT I am hoping to gain some new insight about myself and my recovery journey. New perspectives are on the horizon.

I hope you found some insight in this post and are able to reflect on your own journey. Regularly self-check and you will surprise yourself with the difference it can make in your life. Remember the highs and lows will come BUT that doesn’t mean you aren’t stable, it’s all in how we react.

– Steph

Rubbish

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So the seroquel is here to stay they’ve just lowered the dose… I can’t sleep without it. So my current meds are as follows:

Latuda 100mg
Lamotragine 250mg
Seroquel 50 mg  (this may change I’m still not sleeping that well)

My weight is still an issue but my new doctor Dr. B (as much as I loved my old Dr.L) is taking my concern very seriously and is referring me to a weight clinic where they are going to do a metabolic test and check my thyroid and all that jazz… since starting my medication well over a year ago I’ve gained 25lbs  while being a gym goer except for a few weeks here and there when I was in ultra lows.

I’m optimistic … or at least I’m trying to be optimisitic. All this weight … seems like it’s going to be impossible to lose BUT I WILL LOSE IT  medication or not I won’t be this weight forever.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just felt so stunted with my blogging. All my thoughts haven’t been able to be translated in writing…. their just swirling chaotically around in my head. Whenever I try to write them they just turn into rubbish. Talk about feeling uncreative and uninspired. I feel like all my creative juices have been sucked out of me.

BUT there have been some turning points in my life the past few months, I’m hoping that this will shed some light on my writing. Overall, I just figured it was better not to post than post rubbish.

– Steph

London Bridge

Isn’t this the truth … And it’s just so funny which is a bonus .

Just when you think your getting it together. London bridge come falling down.

I survived the school year – adjusting medications and all. I’m happy to report I was in the A- A+ percentile … Who knew hard work could pay off so well. It was a challenge but I did it. The only limitations we have are the ones we set ourselves. Tell yourself enough times you can do it and surprisingly you’ll be able to do it.

Now that schools finished I will be working again.

All of the above is fine and dandy.

What’s not fine is the Latuda that I’m I’ve been transitioning on to is no longer covered by my insurance (I have a new insurance) anyways I went in to pick up my medication and the Latuda would have been almost $400.00 – not cool – so I left it and picked up my Lamotragine and Seroquel. Which the Seroquel is on a minimum dose since I’m coming off of it and supposedly have the Latuda.

So much fun! Can’t you tell hah oh goodness.

I have my appointment with my new doctor next week, did I mention to you that my glorious Dr. M is taking on a new position within the hospital SO he will no longer be my psychiatrist. Change oh sweet change how I nervously embrace thee.

Oh well in all honesty I was rebelling against my medication anyway and wanted to talk about taking a new one. The Seroquel is at such a low dose because I told my doctor I wasn’t going to take it anymore … I know I know the audacity BUT I PUT 2 + 2 together !

I took a break from the gym I didn’t eat the most consistent healthy meals I admitted that BUT to gain 15 pounds in a few weeks is unreal an that’s what happened … That my dear friends is medication. And I know it sounds horrible but I’m tired of the weight gain 85% of the time I go to the gym 6 days a week I eat good foods I have a problem with restricting but even that’s gotten better. Aside to from those weeks in hiatus I am a gym goer. And this entire year regardless to the slaving at the gym I’ve been gaining weight. It’s killing me. It’s one thing to have sanity but it’s another thing to lose myself to obesity. I don’t look my weight but I’m nearly at 200 lbs THATS NOT HAPPENING (this is with me going to the gym. This past year and a half I’ve gained nearly 40 lbs all together) I’ve told my doctor i’d rather be crazy then obese. Dramatic. I know BUT there is truth behind those words.

As a result he cut my Seroquel dramatically and I’m done with it in a week. As for the Latuda – I can’t afford it anymore. This poor new doctor has quite the mess to clean up (of course I’ll help)

Anyways this was kind of an update. There’s more but I’ll spare you. But if my love life were a movie the defining moment is hand … Maybe I’ll write about it another day.

Steph

Going Up!

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This made me laugh, clearly I’ve been awake for the past 48 hours because people are dreaming of me. Yah, no. Thr reality is I miscalculated how many pills I still had so instead of having one more days worth… I was out completely. So guess who was up all last night???! Me!!! You guessed right, unless your answer was yourself … then you also guessed right if that was the case.

Oh the joys of not sleeping … sometimes it’s scary how awesome it can be. I cleaned my room, studied my spanish, worked on my interior design course, painted my nails, watched entertaining YouTube videos  (I highly recommend searching “Soul Mystique”… your mind will literally be blown!!!) I also picked an outfit for a special event taking place Friday …. that took me like 2 hrs all in its own… and then I drove my dad to the airport at 5 am so that my mom didn’t have to (she thought she was… little did she know I was lurking haha)

And as soon as I got home … I got the shakes haha I needed to sit, my stutter started to manifest itself whilst I tried to talk to my mom. My brain was going at 100miles/minute and yet my body started saying slow down… so I laid on my mom’s bed and we talked of life. I love those type of conversations. After we had our fill we went to go so some errands including grabbing my medication so I can sleep tonight. BUT more importantly we grabbed fresh blueberries & strawberries, I sincerely find joy in such silly things BUT fresh blueberries is definitely on the top of my list! Eventually we made our way home and my sister joined us with her two youngest boys.

So my afternoon was filled with giggles as my 2 year old nephew ran with nutmeg and I chasing the soccer ball & then we blew bubbles till I thought I’d pass out. It was just beautiful.

My youngest sister joined the party and she and I talked. She has one of the purest souls I’ve ever met. She has cared for me in my darkest times and her love has never wavered.

And then work, oh goodness! It was wonderful! The seniors I tend to and serve were as precious as they ever are and made me feel more loved and filled me with more laughter than I could have imagined on such a long day for me. I felt more energized than ever. I also carried a wonderful conversation with one of the women I work with about fitness and healthy body image… I love conversations pertaining to that as well. And to top it off when I went to finish the last of my work one of the gals had already finished it for me just to be sweet!

This post is long BUT I couldn’t help but share the happiness I felt today, on what could have seemed a long tiresome day I felt amazing and alive and filled with love! I hope your day was as wonderful or that it finds you tomorrow!

Go figure I also found another dog on my way home and was able to return him to his owner .

Have a good night by 42hrs is up and meds/sleep is calling me so I can own another jam packed day tomorrow!

– Steph

Medication – Who Needs Them?? PT3

Fall Apart

 

Okay this is the finale to my medication blurb….. essay…. same diff PT3

After I flew back home with my mom, I was feeling awesome… invincible, like I had it all figured out. With that being said, I came up with a brilliant plan.. again. I would move to another city. It was only 3 hrs away, I figured I’d go to one of the universities there AND this would be a perfect way to redeem myself. Show I could stand on my own two feet…. HOLY I’m a gluten for punishment.

I was at home for not even 2 weeks when this plan was unveiled to my family. There reaction as you probably suspected.. “are you sure that’s a good idea?” Of course I was sure! I came up with it AND heck I was on top of the world. I’d be close enough… it was going to be perfect. I asked my eldest sister H if I could stay with her till I found a place, and her answer was a flat out NO! I couldn’t believe her, she wasn’t going to support me – but not to worry I’d do it all on my own if I had to. I drove down and in one weekend secured an apartment and a FT job. Life was mine for the taking! Reluctantly my parents helped me move, wanting to show their support – and my adventure began.

It started out great, I went and saw some doctors and talked about steps to take…. but yeeaaaaa I didn’t go back (I didn’t like how they talked to me… and when they looked at me it was .. just uncomfortable). I eventually started to spiral into a low, life was overwhelming me in every direction. I couldn’t handle being alone with my thoughts, work was just covering the bills and barely making a dent on my debts. And in a matter of 3 months…. I called my parents to move back home. They willingly agreed to help with the move, reassuring they thought it was in my best interest.

So home again, home again, I was living with my younger sister V and  my parents. Love was all around and I was looking forward to finding solid ground. I kept tabs with my family doctor and he referred me to see a psychiatrist. I also started working FT again to go towards debts. (My debt was caused from school loans…. and I had a wee problem called impulsive shopping.. like major) My mom came with me to see the psychiatrist because she wanted to ensure I was forth coming with everything (I had a tendency to play things down to avoid the… your crazy look) So we talked, he asked me what I thought of bipolar and he went on to share that he thinks its all in the head… like its not really what people say it is. He told me I had to just clean up my sleeping habits and I’d be fine. (My anxiety and OCD (I do have slight OCD) weren’t really there… all in my head). He told me to go off my meds because I was fine and dandy. So heck yah! I’d go off my meds I was perfect….

That perfection came at a price, and I couldn’t pay it. I started to spiral out of control so yet again in a matter of 2 weeks – I went to my family doctor, I also asked if I could see another psychiatrist… he said not to worry AND put me back on antidepressants… the psychiatrist wasn’t all that important for me to see in his opinion.

I entered my relationship with my ex around this time, we were on and off for two years, I was up and dramatically down. His words would reassure me and cut me down till I felt like nothing (not the best environment for me to be in) My impulse’s were becoming more intense (just as the doctor yet again kept increasing my meds)… I’d leave and drive at 1 am, 2am, 3am just because I could to drive to the city my ex lived in 3 hrs away. I’d race my car like the fast and furious because I was invincible or because death was an appealing option. I once had two semi trucks; one in front and one coming up on my left side, I allowed a tiny window of opportunity to pass between the two semi’s so I sped up and fit right between… just because I was on top of the world and wanted to push my limits. Reckless driving, reckless spending. When I’d be in a low I’d be damaging to myself…. just so I could try and feel something… punching my punching bag till my hands bled… ripping through thorn bushes when gardening so my arms would be cut and bleeding. Quitting jobs all the time because I felt people were picking up on me – there was no stability. When it came to sleep I was over excessive or had none at all. I was so reactive & explosive. Conversations or any reasoning were nearly impossible. Suicide crossed my mind – ALOT. The voices in my head (my own voice) were always tearing me apart in confusion. And my doctors cure was up, up, up my meds.

Eventually I lost it, I did something that I would never have done, I acted in a way that I knew I could/would commit suicide – out of sheer disgust of myself. This one night in particular I got home and I just knew it was over. I was losing the battle of life, I wasn’t living I was existing and what for??! Just so I could hate my life, and be at constant war with myself? Just so that I could make my family worried sick, overwhelmed with my unreliability and self-destructive ways? I went to my room, and I looked at my bottle of pills. I looked at myself in the mirror and I was ready… I knew I was ready for this escape… but I just couldn’t… I had to, I had no choice – My mom knocked on my door in the middle of my dilemma, she came in and I burst out crying (I love my mom so much, my family so much). She asked me what’s wrong and I told her straight out I was ready to die, I wanted to die, I had no more fight left in me. I had two options of suicide ready. My mom called my dad; my crying escalated to hyperventilating and hitting myself in the leg or arm or my head against the wall (I know that sounds extreme, but I had so much pain I couldn’t get it all out with just crying… so when ever I worked myself up I’d hit myself to the point of bruising) They took me to the hospital. My full on stutter came out, I could barely breathe and then somehow this doctor in particular calmed me down… he didn’t look at me like it was all in my head. He wanted to make sure I was going to be okay.

I was able to go home with my parents that night, but he informed me two nurses would be coming in the morning to see me for an evaluation… this was more than anything before. The nurses came and we talked I let everything out, all the history, all my behaviours, all my reactions… and they simply said ” Stephanie you have two options, your mother can drive you to our hospital, or you can come and be escorted by us – either way you are coming going, because you are a danger to yourself and other people” WoW! they meant business. We confirmed my mother would take me, once we arrived I was put in a room. I had two nurses and 2 doctors come and talk to me (all separately) and at the end I was given another option “Stephanie you can come willingly be admitted to the Psych Ward, or you can come under restraint – But you not going is not an option… it will be to your advantage if you go willingly.” WoW! Yet again.

This was my opportunity; this was what I needed to get the proper help, to see people who would actually help me have and live a life. So I agreed; they took me by ambulance to another hospital… and when I arrived I was terrified out of my mind, I changed my mind I didn’t want to be there!! Especially when I saw some residents (I know that sounds mean BUT its the truth) I had a tour of the facility and was informed of meal times (I honestly didn’t eat when I was there I was so stressed out… I had my siblings and friends eat my food to make it look like I did, such a rebel I know)My mom came a bit after I arrived with my clothes and I told her she needed to take me home immediately, that we could figure things out on our own AND I didn’t need to be here… yah no. That didn’t work. I was there until I saw the psychiatrist and he wasn’t going to be there for a couple days. I would stay in my room unless I had visitors.. writing notes/thoughts  (my room consisted of a bed with a curtain separating it from 4 other women) Honestly, one of the scariest experiences of my life… but I was blessed I had two really close friends who came to see me, and my sisters and parents came everyday so I wasn’t completely alone all day.

Finally when the doctor came, he asked if it would be alright for students to sit behind a two way mirror and observe our interview, and for the sake of education I said yes (I was in university again at this time). I wanted to make sure they understood you don’t have to look “crazy” to need help with mental illness… which is really why I felt so many other doctors didn’t take me serious… I look like I have it all together, which is something I work very hard on. Anywho, the interview began… questions were asked, questions were answered… He left and when he came back , I was presented with an action plan. I’d leave the hospital BUT I would have to come back for appointments with their psychiatrist in the bipolar out-patient unit. SOLD! I was totally okay with that.

Seeing my Psychiatrist was/is incredible, everything didn’t magically disappear but I knew I was on the right road to finally have a chance at life. The first medication a mood stabilizer for bipolar that we tried, failed – miserably. I felt like a zombie, drugged up, could hardly focus in  my classes (I withdrew from a couple after getting out of the hospital). When I relayed my concerns to my doctor he said “lets try a different one”, NOT JUST INCREASE THE DOSE; he actually listened to me. The next medication, had no bad side effects… it was a nice fit BUT in my case, we raised the dose gradually… it was catered to me. Additionally, my doctor recognized that my lows were pretty severe, so he recommended I take an antidepressant that is appropriate for bipolar as well, and gradually we increased the dose. Although my medication increased I didn’t feel like I was becoming less of “me”, I felt like I was finally coming out of hiding to be me!

My doctor asked if it would be alright for me to see a psychologist, he thought it would be in my best interest. I agreed.  I was willing to trust him, and try anything that would help me live a fulfilled life, anything that would help me learn how to live and manage my bipolar – I began meeting with my Psychologist once a week. And I was checking in with my psychiatrist once every 2 weeks for the first year….  let me give a time line:

I went into the psych ward Feb 2014 – I saw my Psychiatrist every 2 weeks till Feb 2015, I now see him every 5-6 weeks.

I started seeing my Psychologist once a week since October 2014… I still see him once a week present day.

I have put in time and work, I’ve hung on to life by my finger nails to get where I am now. I go to my appointments , I am honest with  my doctors, I read books on bipolar, on helping yourself if you have bipolar, about mastering the mind, reading exercises from my docs. I have been actively engaged with living and creating a life for myself. Because if I don’t, who will? I have been able to stop physically hurting myself, I’ve been successful in my university studies (pulling A’s). I’ve been able to leave an abusive relationship without falling into complete ruin (of course I cry and still ugly cry sometimes over it) – we got back together once I got out of the hospital IRONIC  since he was a contributing factor as to why I ended up going to the hospital (I’m a gluten for punishment we’d always get back together- But now its been over since Nov 2014 I realized my life would go on without him)

I have been ridding my life of toxicity because I want to survive and thrive. I have been embracing support rather than always trying to fix it on my own.

For so long I felt like my life was over, like I didn’t have a chance to reach the goals I had as a little girl… everything had been taken away and ruined with mental illness BUT sucking up my pride and going to the hospital; being admitted to the psych ward was the best decision of my life, and as scared as I was  –  I’d do it again.

Starting from the ground up sometimes is the best place to start.

There’s hope, I am living proof.

I am no longer swallowed up into the abyss of hopelessness, I get to experience joy and confidence in who I am; Bipolar and everything.

 

I apologize for the length of these posts. I just wanted to make it clear that I struggled and fought my way into the life I am living now, and I still fight battles but I do not shun away because I know my potential. It was a long painful journey and I have my scars to prove it BUT I am stronger now, and I can offer my strength to help and lift others up. Hold onto the sliver of hope inside of you, you can make it,  I know you can.

With love,

– Steph

Medications – Who Needs Them?? PT 2

Keep Going

Continuing onward! Part 2

I entered 2011 taking the medication for anxiety and insomnia. I was apprehensive about taking medication, because in my head it was a form of weakness; It was a loud declaration that I was broken, and couldn’t fix myself; in my head – it took away my credibility. But, I took it … there was a part of me that wanted to stop fighting with myself, and there was a slim hope that maybe this medication could help.

I was doing okayish throughout 2011, I’d still have weeks where sleep would escape me and I was a ball of overwhelming energy (considerably impulsive), and then I’d hit lows that were hard to handle for everyone. I kept myself pretty isolated to the best of my ability (although I did enter a relationship it lasted 3 months and then I ended it, and then went on other dates with no commitment), the thought of anyone seeing my instability was far too much for me to handle.

I met with my doctor and told him I didn’t feel like my medication was helping me the way I thought it should, so he increased it. Did things change for me? No, not really, so I came up with a brilliant plan to make change! A fool proof plan! I was going to move! Give myself a fresh start, a clean slate, remove myself from the area that had seen my demise GO somewhere that I knew absolutely no one, so that I could finally be happy! I’d go to school, show myself and my parents, my sisters I was more than capable – and that my health history was just a hiccup it wasn’t as serious as everyone was making it. I was Stephanie after all!! So now I had to find a career…. a DENTAL HYGIENIST! PERFECT!!!!!!! I was on cloud 9, I would be a dental hygienist (the fact I can’t stand blood nor being in close proximity to  people… minor details right?? My plan was perfect)…. but where would I study ??? Well it was my lucky day! There was a private institution with a program for 21 months (I’d be able to make up for lost time!) AND it was only a plane trip away! That’s close enough right??!

So my plan was perfect! (it put me back on track with my life timeline) I had it all figured out in a matter of a week! Now that’s taking care of business, my family asked if I thought it was a good idea, voicing their concern of the distance and reiterating my dislike for blood …  of course I thought this was a good idea! No one was going to stop me! I applied and was accepted to school, I took out a student loan, found an apartment to rent so I could live on my own. I was unstoppable. I left and met my new city, new people, new school,  new curriculum, new environment…. not overwhelming at all……… okay maybe just a bit. BUT I was going to make this work!

And it did… for a while, I made friends (I started dating someone) I was passing my intense classes at school (we’re talking 7am-5-6pm with no less than 3 exams per week worth atleast 25%  of your final grade) Did I call home missing my family? Yes… I even called crying in the middle of the night because I was overwhelmed with being away from them… I can admit that. BUT holy…. my ups and downs that were usually a couple weeks each started cycling much more rapidly. Thank goodness it was almost Christmas break! I was flying home to see my family and I’d be able to see my doctor.

Higher dose, that was his cure, I told him about feeling super high, and then feeling unbelievably low (where suicide was a constant though) BUT antidepressants alone were the cure. I went back to school with my new higher dose, and things got ugly FAST! I was going up and down in a matter of days that eventually turned into hours, I felt like I was losing my mind and I couldn’t handle it,(I broke up with the bf) all of the friends I made started raising eyebrows, and getting suspicious because I wasn’t able to keep my smile up (fake or not). My normal 100 miles/minute self was struggling to stay peppy, heck I was struggling to stay awake because all I wanted to do was hide and stay safe with sleep; I wanted to sleep… or die. My “normal” was my manic, there was no middle ground at this point in my life, if I wasn’t over the top it meant I was in the lowest of lows, so my “normal” personality was extreme to everyone, but “that was me”, and up until this point I hid the lows pretty good… but there was no hiding now.

I was struggling bad! So I decided to see a counsellor hoping she could give me an explanation, she informed me she couldn’t diagnose me but what I expressed sounded similar to clients she had who were diagnosed with bipolar. Her recommendation was to go to emergency, it was the fastest way to see a psychiatrist who would be able to help me. (Throughout our session my stutter came out… go figure)

So I went to the hospital, and when I finally got to talk to someone, BAM my stutter came out again, I was so emotionally distraught it re-emerged…. I was put in an isolated room (it had carvings on the cream walls and table.. enough to make you feel crazy HECK  I’m pretty sure I was rocking back and forth trying to calm myself down … “movie-worthy cray cray patient”) , nurses came to talk to me, asking about my behaviours, thoughts, actions. (That morning before I went to the hospital  I had a shower, wrapped myself in a towel and crumpled to the floor – sitting there for hours crying then turning numb… absolutely numb which was happening more frequently) It’s hard to remember everything I said, but I do remember the look on their faces became more and more shocked…. hinting ever so slightly that my behaviours/thoughts were not per usual. I received a referral to a psychiatrist. And they put me on suicide watch, asking if I’d like to stay in the hospital, I said no. Nutmeg (my dog)  was with me and I didn’t want to leave her alone.

The next day I went to the hospital to meet with the psychiatrist, I met with the case nurse first, and started explain everything that happened and was happening, I  again had my stutter emerge and tears were streaming down my face, but when I looked up the nurse, she was crying with me. She gave my file to the psychiatrist and when I met her … more talking/stuttering took place BUT she came to a conclusion, that she didn’t do lightly; Bipolar II. There was finally a name to my rollercoaster!  And the medication I was on, was going to change!

**It’s ironic my mother had talked to me on the phone before my appointment; she told me about a girl she’d seen in an interview for a music competition. The girl had been diagnosed with bipolar, she was around my age, but what made my mom think of me in particular was this girl one day started stuttering – out of no where… I’m not saying there’s a connection between stuttering and bipolar, BUT I do think that this snippet of an interview was something my mom needed to see and tell me about. **

My mother was flown out by my dad to be with me (I have amazing parents). I hadn’t determined yet if I was staying or leaving school. But when my mom came, she stayed for a month. Every time she mentioned leaving I’d break down. I needed her around me… so I came to my conclusion I’d move back home.  Dental Hygiene was not for me.( We’d started cleaning in people’s mouths …. yahhhh not for me either)

I had made some close friends that I was quite sad to be leave BUT I knew I needed to be close to my family… everything was going to change and get better now………. yahhhhhhh no. I was just about to enter the eye of the storm.

I’ll write Pt 3 tomorrow… there was a lot that took place before I finally got the proper help I needed. Staying strong was the only option I had to survive although at the time I didn’t feel like I was strong – BUT not giving up on life; that automatically counts as strength. Remember that.

– Steph

Medications – Who Needs Them?? PT.1

Funny Meds

 Alright, so clearly the meme above is allowing us to have a good laugh about a serious topic. And BOY! Do I love a good laugh.

When it comes to medication, I am in favor. The key though, is I am pro-proper-medication. I am NOT okay with people being prescribed wrong medications, NOR am I okay with doctors not listening to patients in regards to whether their medications are fitting them specifically. WE are ALL DIFFERENT; medications can’t fit like a cookie cutter – lo and behold THERE ARE OPTIONS and it’s YOURS & YOUR psychiatrists job to find the right fit for you. (It’s a two-way street)

I’ve been on the wrong medication AND I mean medications that are not even in the bipolar ball park. Not Fun. Once upon a time, I saw my family doctor because my mother insisted… apparently going 2 years with a constant pattern of only  5-7 hrs of sleep a week whilst working 2 jobs.. was not okay (who knew??) Anywho, I was put on sleeping pills. They worked for a bit… but then one day I had a huge breakdown… and I mean hyperventilating, crying, convulsing (I would hit my leg… I’ll explain that later) IT was the works (I had acted in a way that contradicted who I was and I felt sick over it, to the point I worked myself up BIG TIME) this particular episode left me with a gift. A stutter.

True story, I’d never stuttered in my life BUT by the time my father finally calmed me down (were talking 2 hrs+), I had a stutter AND it didn’t just last a day; it lasted 2 WEEKS. Talk about life unexpected! I was in university, how the heck was I supposed to go and face people who had clearly spoken to me with NO STUTTER?! I worked, how was I supposed to go to work and see/talk to my boss, co-workers and clients?? I wasn’t. I refused. This stutter was a pivotal moment in my life, where things started to surface and I nor my doctors knew what was on the way. And for a while I shut down. Largely due to fear.

I spoke to my university Dean … stutter and all BUT my father came with me because I was a wreck emotionally; when the words I previously would have spoken so clearly with ease refused to form and it took all of my energy to just say a small phrase that was chopped up I would cry, my brain hurt, my pride hurt, my heart hurt. And I had no idea how long this stutter was going to last, my doctor couldn’t tell me either. I withdrew from university. That may seem drastic but stutter aside, I was also afraid of myself. My panic attack had gone to a level I didn’t know existed AND the fear of it happening again was enough to start me hyperventilating. I quit my job. I stayed home and I didn’t go out, anyone I had talked to I stopped. I wanted to be alone & safe.

My parents are amazing. They asked and persuaded me to go see a counsellor. They figured it would help me on all accounts. So I did, just as my stutter had gone away, we talked about a lot of issues that had been surfacing prior to this BIG BANG. And it seemed to help. My doctor eventually placed me on meds for anxiety & insomnia…. and life picked up ever so slowly; I’d leave my house (that took a while – I’m just being honest). But that’s not the ending of this charming story NOR is it the end of me being prescribed medications…. I’ll continue it tomorrow OR goodness gracious this post will be forever LONG… Life happens and something made very evident to me at this particular point in my life was LIFE DOES NOT GO AS PLANNED ( BUT I’m incredibly stubborn so I didn’t accept it … yet); no matter how good we think our plan is, we have to leave ourselves some realistic cushion room for change or we’ll make ourselves sick… again speaking from experience.

Writing this particular post isn’t easy BUT I want it to be made clear – there is hope to live a happy, productive, enriched life; even with bipolar (or any mental illness). My story gets much uglier… but from where I was and where I am now I am so grateful I didn’t give up when that option was on the table for me. **** Timeline – This story is taking place in 2010 at the moment***

Stay Strong,

– Steph