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