Thursday, September 22, 2005

rock me like a hurricane

this weekend is a turning point.

my swings and anxiety and depression got so bad i found a psychiatrist down here (long before my existing meds ran out). i started a mood stabilizer (lamictal) two nights ago. it was designed for epilepsy but works for bipolar and chronic fatigue (which every medical person i have spoken with over the last few months has mentioned as a possibility. great). so i can't drive for at least a week while i adjust and can't drink for quite some time. which is fine.

driving has been getting very scary. after i saw the psychiatrist on tuesday i went to the grocery store for fixins for some fifty-two bean (hyperbole) veggie chili. half-way through the fancy HEB central market i started getting freaked out. i opened the oj and took half a xanax. left as quickly as i could. but it kept accelerating on the drive home. i took another half while at a red light. i was ten minutes from my apartment. it was terrifying. i was convinced i was going to get in an accident and kill someone. then i would be charged with involuntary manslaughter, plead (temporary?) insanity, and spend the rest of my life in a mental health institution. (i've been having a lot of dreams along this theme as well, usually involving panic leading to murder, leading to life in custody as an official crazy person).

i've been dealing with being officially bipolar. when i was younger i always thought i was bipolar. but after years of shrinks saying, "no, you're just clinically depressed" i got used to the diagnosis. then i finally had my panic attacks and freak outs explained by anxiety disorder. more meds, a new dimension to therapy, but still fairly common. i mean, there are all sorts of commercials for depression and anxiety meds. people have adjusted to those diagnoses. then psychiatrists started to mention bipolar. but they were all assholes who i didn't trust or respect who were freaked out by my sex life and didn't listen to me. plus years of conditioning as "depressed and anxious" did not leave room for an additional label.

but my last pyschiatrist put it in terms i could understand. he explained i was bipolar type II. this theory was backed up by not just my mood swings and family history (hoo-boy, now there's a doozy), but by my chemical sensitivity and reactions to drugs like zoloft and combined hormone contraceptives. he said we would try bipolar meds if the depression and anxiety cocktail stopped sustaining.

with this huge transition, it officially stopped sustaining. my depression grew louder and heavier. my panic attacks increased in frequency to the point i was taking a dose of xanax daily (sometimes twice). but then i began to feel better. as i searched for a new therapist and school picked up (whole 'nother drama there), i began to have these productive spurts where i felt like me again. i could finish the work and reading for the week, draft future assignments, design research projects, network and research internships and practica, and be an entertaining classmate and potential new friend. but then i would run in to a wall and crash. i couldn't understand (much less predict) these dropping off a cliff plummets of sanity.

my family also moved to town. i would drive out to visit them and play at the dog park and would swing to the point i couldn't drive home. i missed classes. i missed assignments. i couldn't unpack or think or read. my mom and dad and sister were very supportive. this time around i decided to stop being nice and courteous. i don't have the energy for courteous. when someone asks me how i feel or what i am thinking about, i answer honestly (or i don't answer at all if i don't want to bum them out). i don't have the stamina to lie politely to make someone else feel better. i can barely take care of myself (less and less, really).

so now, two days in to new meds on top of the old meds (my body is currently hosting lamictal, welbutrin, lexapro, and xanax), a hurricane is coming. my apartment in the city is under voluntary evacuation, but my folks' place out in katy is not. the roads or so clogged and gas so scarce we couldn't get out if we wanted to. so my sister drove me to my apartment yesterday to move things away from windows, in to closets, the bathroom, and under the bed. i packed a rubbermaid tub with books and correspondence material and clothes and grabbed sandy's food. i also hit hobby lobby after an inspiring issue of bust (this month's bust is the best i have read. every article made me happy or eager to try.)

this weekend, as catagory 4-5 rita whips my family's new home, i will braid my hair like frida kahlo, and sandy and i will huddle in a closet under the stairs making paper mache string lanterns and little god's eyes dreamcatching danglers for the new apartment. my body will internalize the new meds. i will rest.

and when the storm passes, the sky will be unbearably clear and the new beginning will surge forward out of the crumbled crisped pile of me.


Blogger Polly Tropia said...

Jane, there's a healthcare provider who has helped me tremendously with physical and psychiatric problems, and she's based in Houston. She does cranio-sacral therapy, and she is simply the best practitioner of it I've ever gone to (I've been getting these types of treatments off and on for about 10 years).

You can see her once for a trial visit without a prescription -- after that, you need to obtain a prescription from a doctor to see her. You can talk with her about that.

Her name is Susan Stambush. She's very personable, warm, and understanding. Not cheap, but worth it. May be covered by your insurance.

9/22/2005 4:04 PM  
Blogger Polly Tropia said...


For you and all Houstonians, bear in mind that Amtrak serves Houston. Trains are often the best bet in a crisis -- think how the subways run in NYC even during blizzards. It looks like there's a train from Houston to San Antonio...I don't know how often it runs, but it's worth checking out.


9/22/2005 4:21 PM  
Blogger Librarian Babe said...

It's hard to explain why, but there was something so moving about the last two paragraphs. And I find myself hating the way that feeling horrible mentally can produce some of the best writing. I've been there myself.

I'll do my best to send calming vibes your way. I don't know that there's much else I can do. I'm convinced you'll find the right treatment with your doctors. It's never easy but you're a strong woman.

Enough of me with the platitudes. It's all well-meaning but I can't say anything eloquent tonight.


9/22/2005 9:40 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Ohhhhhh... sweetie. *hugs* It'll all be OK.

9/23/2005 9:10 AM  
Blogger introspectre said...

Oooh, honey. I just started a new shrink, too, and I'm scared they're going to tell me the same thing. All these antidepressants, what the fuck good to they do me? A little, yah, but then I crash again.

The fears of panic leading to murder are totally normal. I have those a lot. Mostly while driving (what if I pass out? I'm all dizzy and freaked out driving down a highway, geez!)

I've been known to try desperate things to detach myself from the crazy train in my head- lately I've taken up naming bugs. (I know, how nuts does that sound?) If you look in my blog, it's titled "welcome to my coping mechanisms" and it's about the crickets in my house.

THe things we do, just to be "normal"...

9/23/2005 10:13 AM  
Anonymous MLM said...

I was diagnosed bipolar at the tender age of 16. For the last few years, I've been pretty much level, and a lot of that is thanks to's the first drug that's really made a difference for me. Being diagnosed and medicated are wonderful steps towards getting healthy and happy...and hey, if Tom Waits and Tim Burton can be successful and bipolar, I'm certain you can too (just felt like doing some name dropping...). I think that one of the benefits of being manic depressive is great creativity...Tim and Tom being great examples of well as your wonderful writing on your blog.
Good luck.

9/24/2005 4:07 AM  
Blogger kim said...

Hey you,

Hope that the first clear, washed-clean, airblown bright morning after the storm is all you need it to be.

You'll make your peace with the biP, and learn to live with it, a kind of accomodation. It gives you good stuff too, weirdly.

And in the meantime, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You'll get there.

And think - even us complete strangers are sending you best wishes from half a world away.


9/25/2005 2:02 PM  
Blogger 00goddess said...

A good Dx is the first step, as I am sure you know. So good for you.

Btw, I have CFIDS and what you are describing doesn't sound like it, so it probly is the BP type 2, or even dysthymia. If you want more info about CFIDS LMIK, but it doesn't sound like your story.

Take care of you , my dear.

9/28/2005 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

I just stumbled upon your blog from another source, and I was really touched by both your writing style and the subject matter. I have bipolar I, and I just started on Lamictal as well. I've been on a total of 9 other drugs since I was diagnosed 4 years ago. I used to have a whole lot of panic attacks, but they've dropped off of their own accord in the last year. I started on the Lamictal a week ago, so I hope it goes well for both of us. I hope that the hurricane has left you okay, and that things start to improve for you soon.

9/30/2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Steve Austin said...

Enjoyable blog. Please check out my dog pile blog.

10/02/2005 2:40 AM  
Blogger misterniceguy1960 said...

Good luck.

10/02/2005 3:03 AM  

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