Lost in Translation Part Deux

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I've talked a little about my "issues" with depression on this blog.

Wait a second as I laugh hysterically at the understatement of that last sentance.

I've been dealing with a whole new avenue of depression in the past few months - a side street of the crazy, if you will.

I seem to have had a real manic episode. As in manic depressive. As in bi-polar.

Of course, being away from my long time therapist hasn't helped. Moving to a new country hasn't helped. Settling Emily, Terrance and I into a new home, a new city and new schools hasn't helped. Feeling lost and misplaced and adrift hasn't helped. Being unemployed REALLY hasn't helped.

When it was happening, I knew something was wrong. I think that was some of what the accupunture was helping to regulate, and when I stopped the accupunture in August, the spiral down started fast.

However, as I have learned first hand, when you are in a manic space, it is a wierd and almost magical experience. On one hand, I knew that I wasn't myself - but I couldn't tell you what was wrong, exactly. It wasn't depression, cause I know what that feels like. But it had some attributes of depression. I was sleeping more, often mid day for hours at a time. I found that I couldn't concentrate on school work, or blogging - or anything that required emotional processing and spent hours playing solitaire on my computer. But other things - ones I am not ready to talk about here - I pursued with single minded intensity. Fixated. 150% of my attention. And while I was not dangerous to others, I was in a very very self destructive space for me.

When the new therapist mentioned it the first time, I got angry. Very, Very angry. I was not crazy. Bi-polar is for the real crazy, not just crazy lite.

However, as the mania subsided, and I started to return to myself, I am able to view the episode with more objectivity. Two weeks ago, my therapist mentioned how much more centered and in control I seemed. Yes. I know. I'm on the other side of the wave. She asked me to consider a medication change. Maybe I needed a mood stabilizer. Lithium. Depakote.

So I saw the psychiatrist who prescribes for me in Canada ( long story - my therapist can't prescribe, unlike my therapist in the states who managed my meds as well. Argh!) He listened and suggested the medications. As a preventative.

And I asked alot of questions. About side effects. About the possibility that this was an isolated event brought on by the overwhelming amount of stress and life changes I experienced over the past several months. About how long the medication would take to kick in if I were to wait and not take it until I was in another episode - if ever. About the odds of my having another episode ( which are, of course elevated since I have had one).

And so, I have been thinking about it. Lots. And I have decided to wait. The side effects of both medications are signifigant. There is no sure bet that I will have another, and I am loathe to take such powerful medications - in addition to the anti-depressants I already take - on the off chance I will expereince another manic episode. I am certainly NOT anti-medication, Shit, I could have invented the "Better living through Pharmacueticals" phrase - but this is a time when I think I need to wait and see.

I was never dangerous to others in the epidsode (which lasted almost two and a half months) - and I retained a voice of caution in my head, albeit a muffled and ignored one. I was aware that I was not "right" within myself - I just couldn't name what was happening.

And Honestly - I think I have had mild manic episodes before, but ones that I managed and turned into creativity ( may I point to completing quilts in a weekend? or my need to have all the embroidery floss in numerical order?) Feel free to bitch me out for the justification, but it's one of the traits I love about myself - The single minded focus I can bring to something and accomplish amazing results. My creativity, my fast mind and quick wit. My ability to process vast amounts of information. I am beginning to think it is related to possibly being bi-polar. And the thought that I would take something like lithium which would change that within me? I can't bear it. I've fought so hard to learn to like ME that changing me seems a betrayal.


And so I understand another piece of the puzzle that is me. Just as I thought I had seen and carefully placed every piece, the frame falls out and the pieces jumble up again. And I sort out the edge pieces to start to make the outline again.

Love you all.

21 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Love you, girl. I love the strength you have and your bravery in describing what you've been going through.

You know where to find me if there's anything you need.

Mitzi Green said...

i offer you this quote from jimmy buffett. "lookin' back at my background, trying to figure out how i ever got here--some things are still a mystery to me, while others are much too clear..."

i wish i could think of something profound to say, but my mood has been soured considerably since yesterday.

me love you, too. keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

My own self destructive phases peek out from the mirror at me, but I am not ready to admit they are there. They should have no reflection, like a vampire. Adn i am not ready to lose them to medication, or therapy. My innner voice thrives on the the stress, anxiety, danger of it all...

Anonymous said...

The acceptance and responsibility you take for your life is truly inspiring.

It also makes me a little bitter. I have people in my life who will stay in denial until they die no matter who they destroy along the way.

Lisa said...

It is a beautiful thing -- that you know yourself so very, very well... How many people can really say that about themselves?

Sounds like you have a good handle on things too.

Heather said...

You are a brave soul to post how episodes effect you - I've had friends and roommates who were bipolar for years and only wished they could have the insight into the condition that you seem to have after one episode. I'm sure your openness will help others dealing it, and for that you should be very proud.

Mom101 said...

I think about you often with all this. I hope you find the placid inbetween space that it seems you're craving. I hope this space, the writing, the sharing (ugh - so fucking Stewart Smalley) helps in some way.

E. said...

I'm not about to bitch you out. I think you'll figure out what's best for you, and I can understand your ambivalence about medicating a part of yourself connected with your incredible creativity. (I wondered how you'd managed to pull off quilt after beautiful quilt at a rate of one a month when Emily was a baby!)

Good luck navigating this new road. We'll be here listening.

Anonymous said...

You are already better off than most people who are bi-polar, because you can recognize what's happening and have the ability to ask for help. Please be careful, and please let me know if you need anything, at all, or want to chat at any time. I loves me some of you, Dawn.

Anonymous said...

I admire your focus and ability to know yourself to such an extent as to know you can recognize another manic episode in the beginning and take the steps then. If it were me, I'd be afraid of not realizing what was happening to me before I was fully in the throes of mania and wouldn't know the right time to take action. You're one brave woman, Dawn. Love vibes back atcha!

Anonymous said...

Do whatever you have to do to take care of yourself, find balance, get back to you.

Make sure Terrance is helping you gauge your moods too. He can be your biggest ally in knowing when or if you start down that path again.

But, all of this you already know. So I'll add I think about you often, and I'm sending strength and peace to you.

Jaelithe said...

I don't think it's inappropriate at all for you to consider the positive effects of mild manic episodes. I've been pretty close friends at one point or another with three different bi-polar people, and they all felt the same way about their milder manic episodes-- that they were actually a boon in many ways, a compensation of sorts, for some of the uglier parts of their illness. I think it's good and healthy to acknowledge both sides of the sword.

I also think that you are making a good decision in holding off on the drugs for now as long as your situation does not get worse. I have seen the side effects of lithium take a toll on the health one of the women I mentioned above, and I agree with you that the drugs may not be worth the risks if you are not seriously in need of them.

Anonymous said...

Dawn I think about you often and had a feeling that things were out of the norm. You know, when you talk about yourself, these issues - you sound so much more sane and self aware than 99% of the people I know. It sounds like you have managed to figure out what is best for you - I applaud you. Please let me know if there's anything I can do - I'll be thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

Sending all good thoughts your way, Dawn. Really.

Anonymous said...

Book recommendation for you, my friend - An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. I expect it will resonate with you, and I also think it will make you feel better about what you've been discovering about yourself.

Thinking of you as always - you know I'm here if you need me.

Anonymous said...

boy, that sounds tough. i have a hard enough time coping with mild depression, you're very brave.
i'm medicated and it helps but it's fair that it's your choice if you feel you can cope..but once you feel you can't, then it's time to re-think

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to send a hug your way. I know hardly comment, but I'm always here.

Anonymous said...

"Just as I thought I had seen and carefully placed every piece, the frame falls out and the pieces jumble up again."

Wow. Again, you completely nailed it. If I die before you, can you come do my eulogy? I don't care how many streets of crazy you been down, woman.

Anonymous said...

I don't talk about my own struggles with depression much (tho' I still manage to be depressing), because I just don't know how to put it into words. You did it, though. Perfectly, perfectly. Am clutching those words to my chest.

Thinking of you, always.


halloweenlover said...

Thinking about you, Dawn, and hoping that you are on an upswing now that things have settled down a bit. I think that waiting to see how you feel in the future is the best idea.

Big big hugs to you.

Debbie said...

Dawn, although my bi-polar diagnosis is a mild form of the illness (cyclothymia; rapid cycling of hypo-manic episodes and hypo-depressive ones), I felt similarly about medicating, because I was terrified to lose the good parts, the highs, and all the things I was capable of doing/being/feeling/thinking/etc. when they occurred.

I took a cocktail of depakote and wellbutrin for a summer, quit, realized I needed meds of some sort, and a few years later began lamictal, which I took for two years.

I learned some really good tools while on the lamictal to apply during the moments when the cycling would start; I learned to identify them, and nip them in the bud.

sadly, I've almost completely lost the good parts. happily, I almost never sink into that quagmire from the old days. and when I do, it's nothing like it used to be.

I miss the hypomanic zany brilliance I used to possess. It was really, really groovy. I was a comedic genius in those moments.

It took me a long time to decide to say yes to meds, and then even longer to choose the right ones (with the assistance of a really amazing NP-psych-dude).

Take your time. You've got it. Take it. And email me if you think you could pick my brain for answers to questions you might have that I didn't already provide in this epic comment.

Love you. Deb

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