Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Risperidone

This little guy has been by saviour! No joke, he's gotten me out of so many holes, I can't even begin to count.

He manages to have this way of clearing my thoughts. In all honesty, they are probably not clear as much as dulled down, but it does give me enough head space to get back on track. It seems to contain my full blown mania and psychosis and was one of the first drugs I was ever given in the crusade against bipolar. It's also fair to say that I have been most responsive to this drug.



Ah risperidone my trusty companion.

Risperidone, often known as risperdol, is another anti psychotic medication. It changes the effects of chemicals in the brain, it is often used for treatment of mania in bipolar and schizophrenia.

Common side effects include but are not restricted to:

* Headaches

* Upset stomach/ constipation

* Tremors or uncontrollable muscle movements

* Agitation/ anxiety/ restlessness

* Dizziness or drowsiness

* Weight gain

I experienced little to no negative side effects of this medication, however, when my dosage increased from 2mg to 3/4mg I suddenly felt sleepier and drowsier than usual. Taking this into consideration, we split the dose to 2 intakes per day, which was much more manageable.

(UPDATE: After being back on Risperdone for 6 months I have noticed significant weight gain. Being a smaller person it hasn't impacted me too harshly, but still something I want to keep an eye on.)

** Please keep in mind that all medication should be okayed by your health care practitioner. Side effects experienced will be different for each person and what is expressed above is from my own personal experience.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Hello, from the other side.

I made it through, all the way through to the other end of that depression. Uuuuft.

That was hellish.

Although I caught myself, or should I say checked myself, before inevitably wrecking myself, It's still tough to take. How can it get that bad? When? Why? - I'm filled with query post episode.

Things completely spiraled, and all of the fabrics of it still bewilder me.

One thing I am extremely proud of, is that I did in fact take action when it was needed. That's a first.

I'm in a good place now. My psychiatrist doubled my risperidone intake and it seems to have done the trick. I'm not yet onto the rainbows and sunshine of it all, but i'm good. I'm siting on the 3-4 region of the mood chart and well, can't really complain.

I've made peace with the fact that I am taking time off school. Health really does come first and I can't beat myself up about it any more.

Hell, I've even managed some good ol socializing time over the past week and boy has that made me feel super good. It's shite though, at the time I feel all down,  like its a total push outside my comfort zone and 5 mins in i'm loving it. Breaking that barrier is half the battle for me I guess. The get up and go of it all.



My therapist and I have been talking about how I see and sometimes talk about myself. Like there are two people. Old me and new me. Pre psychosis and post psychosis. It really broke me down to the bare bones, stripping everything away, and rebuilding is hard. From the really small things like going up and down stairs to the makeup of my ego, it's all taken time and will continue to do so. Trusting your thoughts and behaviours when they bare faced lied to you  for so long is a challenging task.

Will I ever fully trust my thoughts again? How much time is this illness going to take from me? Will she come back? Is new me better?

Mmmm, i'ma stop contemplating my world now haha

Love xo

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Labels; good, bad or just plain ugly

Labels have come up quite a lot for me recently, and it is something I have been challenged by in the past. Most notably when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder. Most recently, when my textbook called those with psychological disorders dysfunctional and disturbed.

Touching on it in that previous post, I wrote that labels can often offend. That is labels of any sort, not just the mental health variety.

Come on though. Why people think it's ok to throw around the terms 'Psycho', 'Bipolar' & 'OCD', is very much beyond me. (says the girl that has a 'cute but psycho' shirt haha but I'm allowed to make fun of myself right?)

The stigma associated with labels can be debilitating at best, and that's without dealing with an illness.

Part of me wants to say fuck labels. But. . . Labels do have a place.



If it wasn't for a label I probably woudn't have received the psychiatric care I so desperately needed. I wouldn't have been able to build a path to recovery or maintain long term coping strategies. In all, I would be no further forward without a label.

 As my psych textbook states: 'Therapists and others use disorder labels to communicate with one another using a common language, and to share these concepts during research. Clients may benefit from knowing that they are not the only ones with these symptoms.'

 Now if only we could release the stigma that comes with a label!

 My biggest distress prior to being diagnosed, when by this point I knew something was terribly wrong, was label stigma. What would my friends, family, employer and others say about my new label. What would the consequences be of officially being mentally ill. I didn't know, and it terrified me. Flashes of future job prospects and travel plans where marred by just a 7 letter word, a word that I now relate to. A word I have taken a long time to accept.

 It seems we often use labels out of context. For example, when we use the term 'running amok'. At least for me it means when someone's going a tad crazy, whether that be a night out on the town or just a little bit rampant. The term itself however, comes from the Malay language and is in fact considered a cultural bound disorder. "Amuck", was considered an illness brought on by an evil spirit. Those who suffer from it, were said to go into a "homicidal frenzy".

Also, just to note. At home in Scotland. A fag is nothing more than a cigarrette. No other stupid rude meaning whatsoever.

I'm hoping I can look at labels with fresh eyes and not succumb to using them in the wrong manner from now on. One step closer in stopping stigma!

 Love xo

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Abilify



Abilify, also know as Aripiprazole, is an Atypical anti psychotic. It is commonly used in the treatment of Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder, although has further application, such as depression and irritability associated with autism disorder.

In bipolar disorder, it is used to treat the manic and psychotic symptoms and is therefore often used along side a mood stabilizer or in some cases, an antidepressant.

For me, when using this medication, I felt somewhat blah. It didn't appear to have too much affect on my mood, as I was often still manic or hypomanic, and greatly depressed. Give it it's due, the psychosis was completely gone but I could also attribute that to the Risperidone. I would think I was doing ok, then out of nowhere i'd be knocked on my ass again. I mean maybe it's because we didn't have a mood stabilizer in there too. Who knows. Everyone's different right.

Common side effects of this medication include but are not restricted to:

* Nausea/ Vommiting

* Changes in appetite

* Constipation

* Weight gain

* Blurred vision

* Headache/ Dizziness

* Anxiety/ Restlessness

* Cold symptoms

* Insomnia

** Please keep in mind that all medication should be okayed by your health care practitioner. Side effects experienced will be different for each person and what is expressed above is from my own personal experience.

Monday, 14 November 2016

" I talk to God as much as, I talk to Satan 'cause I want to hear both sides"

The storm is blowing over. . She says, hopefully.

You were almost reading a post that screamed 'out of control', but I held my tongue.

Things aren't going great, I have to be honest.

Since that god awful exam day last week, I have been in an intensely depressive state. So much so, I took my ass to the psychiatric emergency services.

It seems that things can spiral out of control, no matter how much of a grasp I think I have.

It began with the cab ride home from that exam, I held onto the door handle, with blinding visions of opening the door and rolling into oncoming traffic.

The visions got worse over the course of a few days.

My sleep has increased from an average of 8 hours per night, to a high of 14-16 hours. My appetite has changed drastically, although instead of starving myself, which happens on the reg, I have been overeating. I cry at the drop of a hat. I continue to have more panic attacks and anxiety than normal. My concentration is shot to shit and myself esteem at an all time low.

Strange thoughts pop into my head and I show even stranger behaviours; flipping a coin to decide if I should move back to Scotland and sleeping in my closet.



Talking to my psychotherapist on Friday, it was clear that I was in the danger zone of my own crisis plan without even realising it.

Looking over my charts it was noticeable that this mood had continued for a full week, very out of character for me, at least of late.

That's when I took some control back and made my way to the hospital.

Talking things out with the professionals really put things into perspective. I had taken on too much. Alongside medication changes and symptoms of my illness, there were just too many life stressors impacting my state of well being.

What's so sad is that I can't remember a time when it wasn't like this. A time were I didn't, at some point, go off the deep end.

I know I said I was doing really well, and I am. When I'm stable. Every few weeks however, this depression rears its ugly head and brings me to my knees. This being the worst in while. Thankfully, for the first time ever, I'm able to keep some clarity enough to make arrangements and help myself.

Really but, can I just not feel like this every couple of weeks. Thanks.

It's time to take a back seat until I can return to that level playing field I so often crave. Which sadly means taking some time off school.

I can only hope that this dark cloud dissipates soon.

Love xo

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Another day in paradise.


So there was yesterday. . .

 As always it started well. Some last minute cramming for my psych exam, more coffee than was necessary, and a short bus ride to campus. I would meet with my tutor for an hour before facing the paper.

I honestly felt as prepared as I could have been. I scored 100% on my online graded quiz. To be fair, the quiz was on psychological disorders. I would have been distraught if I had come out with anything less, considering I'm fairly schooled on the subject by now. Even my practice Quizlet tests were coming out in the 80-90% range.

My tutor was impressed with my knowledge thus far. Knocking 35 flashcards out the park.

I have one more cup of coffee and feed my face some chili before making my way to the lecture hall. I even watched a short video of cute puppies to refresh the mind and relax.

Lets go!

The paper gets handed out and it's all heads down. That is until 14 minutes in I hear the dreaded cell phone ring. HOLY FUCK. That cell phone is mine. I scramble to turn it off, but its too late, all those heads are now on me.



Here comes the fear. Oh yeah, percolating within. Shakes. Cold sweats. Tight chest. Ahh there we are. I didn't need that chili anyway. Do I projectile and disrupt the entire class. Nah you got this, swallow it back down.

I spend the next 10 minutes trying to regain some stability, but Its useless, I'm totally thrown off. I can't stop shaking and now the water works are fully on. I could get up and walk out, but I don't need all eyes on me for a second time. Just stare at the wall and let it pass. 30 minutes later and I need to turn my attention back to the paper.

Oh the paper.

Starts drawing smiley faces in a bid to cheer myself up. No! Answer the freaking questions. Still can't focus. Still crying. If I wait till everyone else is gone, I can leave unnoticed. Begin the countdown of students exiting the lecture hall. Fuck. Do something. Eeny meeny miny moe will work perfectly for multiple choice questions right? And those other questions, well, you have some humorous yet depressive answers just waiting to be written down on paper.

Times up.

Throws paper down and runs.

Cue hysterical tears and. . go on. . one more vomit. Haha it's 8 oclock at night and no ones here to see it. Jokes on you anxiety. I just puked in the bushes and not a person besides myself will attest to it.

I make my way to the bus stop but quickly realise that in this state, i'm getting no bus. I call a cab and make my way home. Poor cabbie didn't know what to say to the hysterical girl in the back seat.

I made it home. Friend love. Puppy cuddles. Tutu. Dry heaves. More shakes. Lol and despair at the US presidential vote. Breathe. And calm.

A fuck up of epic proportions.

Love xo

Monday, 7 November 2016

A slave to medication: my current schedule

This could get confusing for some, so be warned. I'm going to follow up with a breakdown of each medication to make things easier to follow.

My current medication schedule is hectic, for want of a better word.

When I was first treated, after a hospitalization, the doctors were convinced I had Schizophrenia. Mostly because I was in a severe manic episode with prominent psychosis. I was completely out of touch with reality, and that is another story and another blog post haha.

To dampen the psychotic and manic symptoms, I was given a 2mg dose of risperidone, accompanied by sleeping tablets. This seemed to balance me out but it wasn't long before the depression kicked in. I was subsequently prescribed an antidepressant along with the anti psychotic I was already taking.

When my mood continued to be off balance, and after many a chat and question sessions, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1.

That was when they decided to move me onto the drug known as Abilify, which had little to no effect on me.

Next up was lithium. We started low, but I now sit around 1200mg per day. For the first time I started feeling side effects of the medication. Thankfully my mood seemed to balance out a little more, so grinning and bearing through the side effects was worth it in the long run.

I then began to have hypo manic episodes more often than not. The rest of the time I was still depressed, something that hasn't alleviated since the entire journey began.



On the verge of another hospitalization, we began to add seroquel to my regime. This is where it got tricky. I had few hypomanic or manic episodes. I still had prevalent depressive symptoms but more than anything, I was just numb. I barely engaged in conversation, I spent most of my time worrying still or staring into space. I had no desire to do anything for myself, had no energy and just felt, well, blah. Now don't get me wrong, i'm used to that. I spent so much time in depressive episodes that it was all too familiar. Because of that, it took a long time for me to realise that the medication wasn't working in the right way. After a visit from my mum it all became clear and my dose was significantly lowered. (which again, has its own consequences and own story to go with it).

Another few manic episodes on and I ask my doctor to reintroduce risperidone to my diet. I calm down a bit again but the depression always manages to rear its head.

This time around we try Lamotrigine. Actually that's where we stand just now. I am currently in the process of dosage increase with this little guy. Every 2-4 weeks my dose will increase until I am at a therapeutic level. To be honest, I haven't noticed any difference or negative side effects BUT, and a huge BUT, I also havent noticed any negative symptoms of my illness in while. Well not significant symptoms anyway. I'm down every couple of weeks but it passes within a few days and I feel I have other coping strategies in place to help me through.

So that's been my prescription pad since starting this stretch. . currently sitting at 1200mg Lithium, 2mg Risperidone, 50mg Seroquel, 50mg Lamotrigine (and on the increase), 1mg Ativan (in stressful situations) . . oh and 7.5mg Zopiclone (for restless nights).

It might seem like an intense cocktail of medication and it has taken a few years of trial and error to get me here. I'll tell you something though. Yes it might not be perfect. Yes I still see dominant symptoms of my illness.

BUT

I haven't been this mentally stable and conscious in more than a decade.

Love xo

Thursday, 3 November 2016

What is bipolar, continued. (With a super duper video to boot)

I have been busy studying in the background and have had very little time to write of late. I did however come across this informational video by Crash Course which I thought could be a little bit insightful and a good follow up to my "What is Bipolar?" post.


These guys are freaking awesome!! I have used them to study for all of my Psych midterms so far. <3 br="">
Love xo

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Mood Scale

So I mentioned in a previous post that I work on a mood scale. This is something my wonderful wee mother gave to me from Scotland, who got it from Bipolar UK.

 I thought it may be helpful to share with you.




As you can see, it also has a colour code ; red is a danger zone, yellow is a big flag and green is where we all hope to live!

Using a handy app, I document where I am on this chart on a daily basis. Making it easy to note patterns or foresee imminent changes. Most days, at least since being medicated, I sit between 2 and 5. Although it can still be a struggle, I am happy to be far from the 8's and higher.

Love xo

Friday, 28 October 2016

What is Bipolar?



People often have misconceptions about bipolar. I've heard the term be thrown around when someone is in a bad mood or is inconsistent with their emotions but that's is not entirely true of the illness, and in some cases, can offend.

Bipolar is a mood disorder, where one experiences periods of extreme elation and also periods of great depression. These feelings and emotions are much more intense and futile than of regular emotions. It is not categorically a shift in mood from hour to hour, but rather over days, weeks and even months.

For me I can spend a long period of time feeling worthless and guilty, I forget to eat and I sleep too much.

The risk of suicide among those with bipolar is significantly higher and is what makes the depression end of the scale extremely scary.

On the opposite end, those experiencing elation can often begin to hallucinate, or in some cases enter into a state of psychosis.

Both ends of the scale prompt risky behavior's and come with wide variety of symptoms from irritability, changes in weight and even excessive spending, to name but a few.

Bipolar is said to be an imbalance in brain chemicals which contribute to these extreme fluctuations in mood, however, day to day environmental stresses and pressures can have a big impact.

The severity of both moods (and in some cases mixed states), can have a damaging effect on ones social and work relations, financial stability and can often pose issues with the law.

Bipolar is a serious long term illness, but with support and education, some may go on to lead long, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Love xo


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

" What's gonna be left of the world, if you're not in it. . "


Some days are just the worst.




The day started fairly positive, I mean I woke up late but whatever. I got off to a good start, sticking to my daily workout followed by breakfast.

A quick bus trip to school and i'll be golden. That's what I thought. 

I had been on the bus no more than 2 minutes when the fear hit me. A delightful patron, barges through the isle and hollers to those on the back seat to ' Move the fuck over'. Uhoh. This is going to end well. After finding a seat, said passenger jumps up and slams the roof vent open with an aggression to be desired. It's fine, honestly it's fine, but the fear doesn't listen. My palms start omitting a cold sweat, my heart rate falls over itself. Oh and there it is, there come the shakes. Is that vomit I taste? Fuck. All the while I'm staring dead out the window, hoping my headphones silently deter any interaction. Nope, not this time. ' Nice hat', takes headphone out of one ear and sheepishly says thank you. More loud chatter, more curse words. Finally he tells me i'm sad for wearing headphones and missing out on conversation. That is, until someone nudges him, a reminder that he pushed the button to signal his stop. Off he goes, shouting and swearing into the day. Now where was the need for all of that? The belligerent behaviour is one thing, but to have a panic attack in reaction is something else entirely.

The day picks up, i'm off to meet my tutor. What else can go wrong? Well I guess I'll have a peek online and see if my exam results are posted. Yupp, there they are. A big fat fucking D. May as well have slept through the fucking exam. Chokes the vomit back, again.

Yoga relaxes me a bit, and I make it through my Psychology lecture without bursting into tears. Bursting being the optimum word, tears there were.

I bus downtown, but the memory of my last trip breaks me into panic once again. I plug in my headphones and stare at the ground, hoping to bypass any vomit that may be awaiting my demise. Given the day I had, I thought a nice cold cider was in order. I have 9 spare minutes to book it to the liquor store before my next bus. On route I pass some panhandlers. Again, headphones in. Again, that deters absolutely no one. When I fail to respond to his aggressive shouts, he follows up with ' Go fucking die '.

So here I am, walking down the street wondering if I should in fact take his advice and go die. Or I could go home, cook a steak and drink a cider. Yupp, right on cue. Vomit. Luckily there's a trash can in sight, because regretfully, this time I can't choke it back.

So that was today; 3 vomits, 1 panic attack, a failing grade and a request to kill myself.

Happy Fucking Days!

Love xo

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Fresh out of the box.

This might be the hardest thing i've ever had to do, well besides taming the beast that is. You see I haven't been completely honest with you over the years. Although it says it right there in the title, I have not yet written or spoken the complete truth of it all. Behind the scenes, I have spent the past few years struggling with my demon. A demon that within the field of modern psychiatry, is named Bipolar 1 Disorder.

The signs were always there, a diagnosis merely highlighted the facts. I was often met with the label of ‘too intense’, ‘hypersensitive’, and in some cases just pure ‘crazy’. The lookers and pointers where always quick to tell me something was wrong, but until I decided to realize it for myself, everything was just ‘fine’, fine with roller coaster highs and lows that could not be reasoned with. Until now.

It's not me, she screamed.

And it isn't. It is a big part of me of course, but I would be a fool to believe it constitutes my entire being.

But what does it mean? Well, for me, as well as shedding light on some of my past thoughts and actions, it now puts my future into perspective. I take daily medications, as well as self-care strategies. I work on a colour coded mood scale, that depicts my darkest and highest states. I never thought I would be so at home with a label, a chart, even an identity, but you see bipolar is not my identity, it is deep rooted in who I am as a person. A person full of love, happiness, creativity and excitement. Someone who, with the aid of said colour coded chart, can pin point her mood at any given time and consequently, yet proactively see the potential pitfalls coming her way and react to them accordingly.

Coming to terms with, and accepting this illness has been by far my hardest task to date - even given some of my most intense episodes and hospitalizations. The realization that there is a manageable life to this eternal illness and having the strength to push on with, and uphold the strategies I need to stay in a safe place, has been nothing less than an epiphany.



I am Natalie, I have a passion for life, travel, adventure, connection and on the bad days, self loathing.


I sit cross footed on the see saw of my existence, in the hopes that the scales don't tip against me.

After years at battle, I feel I finally have some control in my life. Control enough to stand up and talk, to share my story.

So here I stand, guilty of the highs that send me into psychosis and allow me to talk to god, as well as the lows that dig a bigger hole than a JCB.

I am Natalie, a daughter, a friend, a lover, and I proudly manage, not struggle, with a disorder called Bipolar 1.

I no longer anguish over the past, but instead, I now look onward with lust to the future. With the help of some very strong and supportive family members, friends and helpful local organizations such as Bipolar Babes, Insight counselling and Vancouver Island Health Authority. I now know I can take each day for what it is. I have returned to university in a bid to learn this illness inside out, I continue to hold down a job and care for my four-legged friend Sandy the chiweenie (although she may well be the carer). I recognise the difference between self-care and selfishness and continue to grow as a person, each and every minute.

I’d never wish this illness upon anyone, but for now I am happy to say it is very much a part of me.

I am Natalie, and I am bipolar.

Love xo




Saturday, 22 October 2016

Good Night Rosey Tee, Good Morning Lithium Daydreams



After three years of blogging under the name Rosey Tee, a place where I shared my transition from Scotland to Canada, and all the adventures in between. I hangup my coat and pick up the umbrella.

It is now time to start a new writing project. A project that is very close to my heart and will follow my new journey in dealing with Bipolar disorder.

I hope to share with you, the ups and downs I deal with on a day to day basis; the roller coaster life that is one of mental illness.

I swear here today that I will try to stick to the point, no veering off or being swayed by product placements and paid posts.

Pure and simple writing is what I seek.

I have found an honest, creative outlet in writing and wish to continue with that.

Follow me on my journey of intense emotion, medication, psychiatric practices and self care strategies.

Together we can work to manage, not struggle, with mental health disorders.

Love xo