Things Will Never Be the Same

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Lately I’ve been a spectator in life. I think it’s because I see moments of my former self in people around me. I see these moments everyday and I have to say, it makes me sad to see how far I have slipped away from…well…me. I see people enjoying normal day-to-day activities such as running, hiking, being involved with the start-up of their kids spring sports, going to the cinema, dinner, etc..

I remember how much I used to love football/soccer season. It was such an exciting time in our house to be back to sports. This year has started back up and I haven’t been able to face it. My husband has had to do the practices and socializing with the other parents. I can’t bear to put on the fake smile, make the small talk and pretend that in some way outside of football/soccer we would all have something in common. I’ve lost a certain strength and fire in me that I once held. I lost my sense of adventure to conquer and explore. I guess I am still living with the hospital mentality of “let’s just survive today.” My therapist assures me that my “core being” is still in there and has never left. She tells me that my “core” is stronger than most people she has worked with. Whether she says this to everyone or not, I’m not sure. What I do know is that I have had to overcome a lot of traumas in my life so far and I am still here and standing. The thing is, I want to do more than just stand and exist. I want my life back. I want to feel involved, “switched on” and above all I want to feel strong, mentally as well as physically again.

My body seems suddenly as weak as my mind, which feels about as fragile as a piece of glass blowing in the wind during a storm. I have taken a hit on my self-esteem with my most recent psychotic break. I no longer have the faith that I once had in my resilience to come back from life’s everyday let downs, large and small. I have put on so much weight on since my medication cocktail they put together for me upon my discharge from the hospital in early December. My medication also makes me tired and I feel like a zombie which makes me want to sleep most of the time, this doesn’t help with my weight gain because of a simple lack of motivation for exercise. I have always had a slim figure but it’s been a slim, lithe figure.

After my hysterectomy in February 2013, my body felt weak and completely foreign to me. I felt let down not just by this one isolated occasion but more to do with a series of events that had built over the course of the last decade or so. My hysterectomy simply put, was “the straw that broke the camels back.” It took me about three months after my surgery to decide that I wanted to feel strong. It wasn’t enough to be slim any more, I needed to feel strong because I felt completely let down by my body. It was at this moment that my strong “core” seemed to have kicked in. I began to walk our Siberians everyday and then even that wasn’t enough. I began to walk them further distances everyday. I had to walk at least 2 1/2 to 3+ mile stints at a time. Before I knew it I had joined a gym (it had become too hot outside during the summer and I am allergic to just about everything out here) and was running on the treadmills. I even began to workout my arms and other parts of my body. I began to love the shape of my body and loved seeing and feeling just how strong I was getting. I had never felt better in my life both mentally and physically. Life was good.

It was to be short-lived. By the end of August I hit a wall. I had fallen ill with a sinus, double ear and chest infection. I didn’t want to fall behind and so I continued to push myself and just accepted a slower time. Little did I know that not only was I not healing, but I was also making myself more ill. It was also at this time I found out that my brother was issued several warrants for his arrest and was shooting up heroin. Everything seemed to be going wrong. My body was failing and my mind was unable to cope with all the stresses being thrown its way. I was eventually told by the doctors that if I didn’t take time to heal, I was going to come down with walking pneumonia and my mother used me as her crutch for everything about my brother and her depression. So with all my nervous energy and no physical outlet, I became completely unmanageable. I was unmanageable for myself and my family. My psychotic break was inevitable.

I have been really hard on myself lately with regards to the way I look and feel about my body. I beat myself up about my looks every single day. I hate to be touched and I hate to be looked at. I want to hide and blend into the background. This has never been me…ever. I used to believe I was born to stand apart from the rest. I miss those days and that feeling of confidence. I have allowed myself to slip so far physically (and mentally) that I no longer feel attractive and fear I will never be able to get back to looking AND feeling like I once did before all of this had started. Before my descent into my own personal hell that still has me in its grip. I feel like it’s easier to hide and sink deeper into the depths of medications and side effects than fight against them. I have given up emotionally and physically. Things will never be the same.

“You Don’t Look Sick” and Other Misunderstandings

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I’m sorry it’s been a long time since I’ve last posted anything. Truth be told, I have had more on my plate than usual and been going through some pretty major stresses in life. I have been jumping from melancholy, rage, worry and eventually exhaustion. I have had thoughts of desperation for everything to be over. I just want to lay my head down, hide and somehow have all of my stresses pass. Of course I can’t ever say exactly how I feel to anyone because I would be classified as “a danger to myself.” This is ridiculous because I’m not “a danger to myself” and I would like to avoid another hospital stay in my near future. I have already had two in the last few months. I have no plans to go back in again. I will instead keep my chin up and carry on as I have always done. This has been my coping mechanism since I was a teenager, to hold everything inside. Another, not so healthy coping mechanism that I developed as a teenager seems to be slowly creeping its way back into my life.

I’ve been going through my cycle of binge eating on junk food, breaking my vegan diet, then feeling guilty and obsessing about it. I also have become obsessed with the number on the scale again. Thankfully I haven’t purged yet but I have no doubt that if I don’t end this cycle the next step will be close to follow. All of this isn’t helped by the fact I’m taking Seroquel. A drug that is known to add weight and makes you feel constantly hungry. I have spoken to my psychiatrist about my concerns over the side effects and he seems to look beyond them and quite frankly ignores my worries. I also have stopped running (*literal* exercise). Running has always been my outlet for stress and it keeps my eating disorder at bay.

Having Bipolar, or any other mental illness is a constant battle because you are bright enough to know exactly what you need to do to get yourself back into a healthier frame of mind yet you lose any desire to actually do it. I can tell myself, until I’m blue in the face, to get outside and go for a walk, eat healthy, go out and don’t isolate myself, etc.. Yet somehow I just won’t. I will isolate myself and live in my personal hell. Going over things again and again in my mind. I will allow the voice inside my mind to put me down and rip me to shreds on a daily basis. Just when I think I can’t take anymore, that same voice, will tell me that I have to stick around. It will tell me that I can’t give up because I love my boys and husband too much to do something stupid.

My stress has been intense enough to also trigger my PTSD and I have had my hallucinations back. So far the “creature” has only returned once but once is enough, in my opinion. My Dissociative Personality Disorder has been fairly frequent these days as well. So between the eating disorder behaviour, the PTSD and my DPD returning…I’m a mess. My husband’s worried but doesn’t really know what to do or how to deal with it. He also has his own stresses to deal with.

My teenage son knows that I am not able to battle with him and he uses the opportunity to live as he wants. I would like to say that this is his way of expressing worry over having a mother who suffers with Bipolar but it’s not. We argue about these things when I’m well and he uses the opportunity to “make the most” out of being able to get away with doing them, without question, when I am not. Basically he is a typical teenager. My ex husband, his father’s side of the family, has always worked this way and so I have accepted it as being what it is.

My ex mother in-law has always used my difficult times to ring me up and rake me over the coals about my illness and how it affects my son. How he is “overrun with worry and stress.” How I “really need to get myself stable and not put him through this.” How he picks up on my moods and is directly affected by them. I have no doubt that there is some truth in that statement but like her, he has a way of working things to his advantage and if that’s telling her “how worried he is about me” to get more favours, then that’s what he will do. Apparently when she saw me with him over the Christmas holiday (for 5 minutes), she saw just how “concerned” he was over my mental state. I found this statement to be odd because everyone else (including my mother) mentioned how happy and relaxed I seemed over the holidays. Why would he be worried then? As I said, it’s just their way of dealing with each other and I am still considered one of them. I probably will for the rest of my life. Nice isn’t it?

It may seem as though I have gone off track. I haven’t completely. The point to the previous paragraph is that regardless of what my ex mother in-law says or what my son does, I am without a doubt my own worse enemy. She cannot bring anything new to the table and it says a lot about a person who will kick someone when they’re already down. It goes to show just how little people actually understand about mental illness. It truly sums up the statements of “you don’t look ill” and “you can control it and just be stable, happy, mellow etc.. if you really wanted to”

I’m hoping to get back on track and have things look up soon. My psychiatrist and therapist seem to have every bit of faith in me. They both seem to have much more faith me then I do. They have assured me that I am moving in the right direction but I need to “level out” and become stable for a longer period of time before we can work on getting me on the brighter side.

My last psychotic break was much more severe than I realized. It was such a long time coming and I hid it for so long that when I did “break”, I completely went. I was just short of catatonic when they brought me into the hospital in October. The next hospital stay was in November because I checked myself out too early during my first stay. I was permanently inside my head and lost all sense of the “outside” world. So this is me at the moment. Living in my personal hell and feeling as though I am spinning out of control with fleeting moments of feeling “normal.” I love those moments! I have to trust in the system and more importantly trust in myself. Trust in my strength to battle back as I have done so many other times.

On a side note I want to say a huge thank you to you. I am immensely grateful for you, my readers, for not giving up on me and continuing to read my posts. Your support means more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

Written By Amber L Munday

“It Is What It Is”

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“It is what it is.” A simple five letter sentence and yet it packs a bigger punch than most people give it credit for. Lately I have had to say it a lot and it has only recently dawned on me the impact of that small sentence. It’s a sentence that you can say with a sense of resignation or a sense of excitement when being faced with a choice in life that has to be made. I suppose you can also take it at face value and not tie any emotion into it but what’s the point in that?

Everyday we make decisions that will affect the outcome of our lives in some way. Some will present themselves as a ripple effect and be just that. Whilst some begin as a ripple and eventually build into a swell of waves further down the road. Then there are the decisions that are forthcoming about being a huge swell of waves from the start. These are the decisions that are the most difficult for me because so much is at stake and I will carry the weight of the decision to the point of exhaustion, only releasing the weight, once all has worked out. On the rare occasions, when all has not worked according to plan, which is just life (wish I could take this advice), I will beat myself up about it until I reach a breaking point. Typically this “breaking point” involves a psychotic break that requires a huge cocktail of medications and more therapy than I dare to think about.

Just about every aspect of my life has gone topsy-turvy and is spinning out of control lately. Things that are important to me have changed, the direction that I want my life to go has changed and my medication has changed drastically (not really in control of this). So yes, it seems like nothing is going to plan these days, in spite of my best efforts and working with my psychiatrist and a psychologist.

My response to all these stresses has been to say, “it is what it is.” That simple sentence actually has a two-fold response. One is allowing myself to feel a sense of “It’s not really my fault” if any or all goes wrong because I had already resigned myself to the cold hard fact that I was backed into a corner and things hadn’t gone according to the plan, which wasn’t my plan, but I had run out of ideas and options. This isn’t to say that the decision or option standing in front of me is a terrible one. In fact sometimes, on this occasion, it is just the opposite.

This direction that my life is heading in is simply not one that I had planned on and far from what I had envisioned. It’s a huge decision and one that I never imagined being faced with again. It’s also an enormous endeavour, that quite frankly, where I’m at in life, scares the hell out of me. If someone were to ask me about it when I am “normal” and my mind doesn’t feel so fragile, when I felt able to think (and have trust in my decisions) more clearly, I would be up for the challenge in a heartbeat. Unfortunately this is not the case at the moment.

Living with Bipolar is like being given a double edge sword. I long for adventure and hate the monotony of the day-to-day life but I also don’t cope well with change. Change throws the rhythm of my mind out of whack and it tends to take a bit longer to recover than most people. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t ever make changes in my life. Quite the opposite, life is all about adventure and experiences. Without these aspects of life, how would we ever grow? When one door opens, you have to take the opportunity because a lifetime is a very long time to carry the regret of not taking a chance when one was given. Doors will only stay open for so long. At least that’s always been my life philosophy. Unfortunately I live with a demon on my back that whispers in my ear, trying to stop me from taking chances. It is the voice of doubt. The voice that reminds me of all my flaws and past mistakes. It’s at its strongest when my mind is in the state it’s in now. I can’t and won’t let it win.

So here I find myself with one door eminently closing and another opening. The only catch is that, the door that is opening, is not the one I had in my mind. Do I take the chance? Yes because, although it’s not the door I was hoping for, It is the only door that stands in front of me. I have to take the opportunity that fate has given my family and I because we can’t stay here like this. I have to believe there is something to be gained from this opportunity. Ultimately though, “It is what it is.”

I hope that this will be the right decision for our family and once we reach the other side, all of our lives will be better. I hope that everything will fall into place (with relative ease) and I will be asking myself why I ever had any doubt. I also have to cross my fingers and hope that I am strong enough to endure the immediate trauma and upheaval of it all. I have to trust myself and all my strengths because I will undoubtedly need them. I can remember the last time, when I had to call on all of my strengths to get me through. *A little secret of life is that you never actually realize how strong you are until there comes a time when, all around you is falling apart and your strength is all you have to see you through. Having supportive people, be it friends, family or both, makes a huge difference as well.*

So there you have it. One door is swiftly closing and another, albeit not the one I hope for or was expecting, is opening. It has to be now. A decision been made and action needs to be taken. The only question is whether I take the leap of faith and go through the door with my eyes open or go through with fear and my eyes shut tight. I have to take a leap regardless. “It is what it is,” good or bad.

Sometimes life throws in adventures that we never see coming because we aren’t able to see life’s “master plan.” An adventure that will become a lesson and hopefully better than the one we had already planned in our minds.

Written By    Amber Munday

Is My Medication Working?

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My bipolar is a funny thing, when I’m going through a really stressful time, it feels as though my medication doesn’t work to its full potential. It seems to weaken and fail to live up to its purpose. I’m under a fair bit of stress right now and I’m trying to decide if my medication is working or not. Maybe I’m going through a period in my life in which any medication I was taking would feel like it was failing. The reason I even have to question this is because I’ve been put on a new medication regime. I have very little to actually compare it to since I was psychotic when my psychiatrist prescribed it to me. I haven’t had the chance to feel “normal” on it yet.

I thought that just maybe, the anti-psychotic I am taking was beginning to work but I have recently found myself slipping into old patterns. I am having trouble with sleep again. Falling asleep is an issue and once I’m finally asleep, I am plagued by endless nightmares. During my most recent stay in the hospital, one of the psychiatrist I saw was honest about how sleep can heal me or send me back into delirium. He also mentioned that, usually psychiatrists try not to interfere with patients REM sleep but in my case they have no choice but to interfere with mine.

Apparently I have an over-active mind and when I’m asleep it only becomes worse. This causes my sleep to become almost ineffective. This in itself becomes an issue because I than don’t get the type of sleep required to process the day I’ve had and decide what I need to store as memory and what I can let go of. The doctor described my mind as a computer. Without REM sleep, everything from my day is unable to be processed and my mind is unable to decide what is to filed away in my “hard drive” (memories) and what stays as “ram”. This in turn means that by the next day, my new experiences push aside the previous days memories because there simply isn’t the room to store everything in my “ram” drive. This is what contributes to my short-term memory loss. Does this make sense to everyone?

I also find that I have the tendency to ramble and go off on tangents when I become sleep deprived. It’s so frustrating and somewhat embarrassing. I become paranoid that everyone around me can notice that my bipolar is causing my mind to slip. This is when the danger sets in. I end up keeping my thoughts to myself and then I become even more paranoid that everyone will notice that I have gone quiet. Then the real danger comes because I have a higher chance of slipping into a DPD (Dissociative Personality Disorder) episode.

It’s not fun to lose sections of my day and have to look for clues about what went on whilst I was “absent.” I’m still unsure of how well I am able to hide when this happens because this disorder is so relatively new to me and I’m trying to work out just how noticeable it is. The best way to describe coming back from a DPD episode is that it’s like falling asleep, then waking up during a class and trying to figure out what the professor is talking about. It’s horrible and completely disorienting. My way of knowing, at least I think, that it’s happened is I become extremely exhausted and feel like I need to sleep.

I worry that my mind completely unlocked during my last psychotic episode. Maybe this is because I allowed the episode to carry on for so long before getting help. Right now I live constant worry that my mind may never return to normal. What if I stay lost in Wonderland, unable to find the rabbit hole to bring me back to civilization. What if this is the “new” me. I can’t live like this forever. Having my physical body in a world that is completely separate from the world in my mind. This fear is partly what drove me into my most recent psychosis.

Another symptom that drove me further into my psychotic episode was noise! It began with me becoming extremely sensitive to any noise around me. The noise made it impossible for me to concentrate. It then progressed to the point where I could be sitting in a room that was completely silent and it felt as if I was standing in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. The noise had suddenly gotten into my head! It drove me crazy, literally. I never had a break from it. Imagine noise in your mind 24/7! The noise eventually reached the point where it would actually wake me up when I was asleep. I have to admit that I am once again becoming sensitive to noise. I’m hoping this is due to my sleep problems and nothing more sinister.

My psychiatrist explained to me that I have to give it time. He worded it in a way that a hospital stay is just that. It doesn’t matter what type of hospital I was in. He asked me if I went straight back into my daily schedule after my hysterectomy, obviously not because I was barely able to move. Then he asked me why I would assume that I would be able to return to my daily activities after a psychiatric hospital. He told me that my mind was still in recovery and I have the added complication of my mind trying to adjust to some heavy-duty medications. That thought had never occurred to me. I am just as guilty of living up to the stigma that, because I’m not physically ill, I should be fine. I’m pretty sure that I am not the only person to have done this. Why do we live up to the stigma that we fight so hard to abolish. I am my worst enemy in this regard.

*Feel free to share, reblog or link any of my posts. My blog is out here in the hopes to help other people who live bipolar.*

Psychiatric Hospital Stay

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*Continuing on with my most recent post.

Once I had fully come back from the overdose, I found myself being checked into a psychiatric hospital. I had given everyone a scare and yet I still felt numb. Numb to my surroundings and numb to life. I had already known the drill that you have to go through when admitted to a hospital. Knowing the drill, funnily enough, never seems to make it easier. The whole process of your creatures comforts being stripped from you, the very same items that you have become dependent on as tools to help you survive seems awful enough but let’s not forget the dreaded “skin check.” I don’t know why the “skin check” is something that I get hung up on but it is. I’ve had two children, a hysterectomy and survived cancer. Yet the concept of being stripped down, having someone search every square inch of you while someone else is searching through your clothes just seems to get to me.

I cried most of my first evening away from my family. I found myself sitting in a stark room with only a handful of items to call my own. The only thought that I could muster up to tell myself was, “you’ve really screwed up now.” I eventually managed to sleep for a few hours before the staff rounded us up for breakfast. Breakfast?! I don’t eat breakfast…ever! Somehow this was not something I had the energy to fight with the staff on. It came down to me realizing that my world, at the moment, was no longer ran my way. I had given up any say on the running of my day-to-day life the moment I took those pills. It’s a harsh wake up call!

My husband came by during visiting hours later that evening. I tried everything to barter my way out of this hospital, which was nicer than the previous one I had been in, back in 2000. I tried pleading that I would be “good” and “behave” if he could just check me out and take me home. I didn’t want to miss Halloween with my boys. I told him that “I didn’t belong here” and “I wasn’t like everyone here.” It was heart wrenching for my poor husband. Even if he had wanted to take me home, it wasn’t in his control.

By day two it dawned on me that I had a lot more in common with “these people” than I had ever anticipated. We got to know each other during our many check-ins and classes. This is when I began to see that, although we didn’t have much in common on the surface, we were similar in the sense that we were all exhausted from trying to fight to stay “normal.” We were all damaged just in different ways. For the first time in months, I was able to see that it wasn’t just me who was damaged. I did my best to help the others out of whatever dark place they managed to end up in. It almost felt as if, by helping them I would somehow be able to avoid my darkness. If only life actually worked like that.

By the end of my stay I had an official diagnosis of Bipolar I, PTSD (already knew), delirium (from lack of sleep) and Dissociative Personality Disorder. The Dissociative was new and a little unnerving but I wasn’t about to ask questions and extend my stay. The psychiatrist managed to put my Lamictal back up, take me off the Trileptal and add in Lunesta. He also banned me from ever getting my Xanax back! By the time I had discharged from the hospital, my medications had changed but not much had changed in my mind.

I was continuing to hear noises and “chatter” in my head constantly, I felt overwhelmed and out of control and ultimately I just didn’t have it in me to fight my illness any more. It was easier to allow my illness to consume me. That’s the thing with bipolar, when everything goes pear shape, its constant and it’s exhausting. Bipolar disorder has a sick way of pulling you under and making you want to give up all the while keeping your will alive just enough to keep your mind from any peace. Eventually you get just as sick with the highs as you do with the lows.

Needless to say I was discharged too early and back in the same hospital two weeks later. This time it was for a much longer stay. I was originally told that I needed to go back in because they wanted to change my mediations and that I needed staff on hand just to make sure all was well. I had been assured it was going to be for a few, 5 days, at most. To be honest, as much as I hated the idea, another part of me felt comforted by it. I knew I wasn’t right and that my stability was getting worse and worse. I honestly felt that this was the right thing to do, even if it meant missing home.

I was lucky this time around because I knew what to expect from this hospital and I admitted myself in which gave me a sense of control. I was struggling with my bipolar and I was less able to hide my Dissociative Personality Disorder. Things were a lot more difficult to hide this time around because my medications were being changed around which exposed my symptoms easier. It’s strange because I had no idea what DPD (Dissociative Personality Disorder) was until I was admitted the second time around and the staff was able to really document it. It still scares the hell out of me because it’s one of those things that comes and goes without any warning and you aren’t aware that you are doing it at the time.

Unfortunately I missed yet another holiday with my family, Thanksgiving. The hospital staff were great because they seemed sensitive to the fact that our families were away from us on such a family orientated holiday. They put on a Thanksgiving lunch for everyone and it was great to have my husband and boys there. This was the first hospital stay that I ever allowed my boys to visit me. The hospital wasn’t frightening in the least and our boys were more frightened of the unknown at this point. It was one of the most difficult days to say goodbye to them. I felt an immense amount of guilt that they had already had gone through Halloween without their mum and now Thanksgiving. I promised them both that I would be home before they knew it.

I voluntarily admitted myself for a medication change but as my DPD became more and more obvious and frequent, the doctors were less inclined to discharge me until they could gain a better handle on it. It’s scary really to think that you voluntarily check yourself in for one disorder and suddenly find yourself in deep water because another disorder decides that it is going to rear its ugly head. Two weeks had passed until my psychiatrist felt confident enough to discharge me. I made it out in time to go back to the UK for Christmas with my family and I am now on a new medication regime, which I’m not very fond of, as well as meeting with a therapist every week.

Things have been rough since leaving the hospital. The psychiatrist is continuing to try to find the right cocktail and dosage of medication, not only to stabilise me but to allow me to live a fully functional life. I can’t remember the last time I felt as if I was “functioning.” I’m still in a constant battle with my paranoia. I continue to battle through a mixed state episode, for now and I can’t seem to make any decisions at the moment. I also seem to have lost all of my short-term memory. The psychiatrist tells me it’s probably more to do with the fact I’m dissociative at the time.

The dark shadows return often at the moment and my will to fight this seems to dwindle. Then I realize that I have to just go with it and have trust in the process. Not always the easiest thing to do when all I want to do is hide under a duvet and have everyone just leave me. My mind knows what it “should” be doing or feeling but I am still waiting for the rest of me to catch up now. Everyday I wake up with two goals 1) Survive the day to the best of my ability and 2) Stay out of that hospital! I’m hoping this gets easier soon.

*Feel free to share, reblog or link any of my posts. My blog is out here in the hopes to help other people who live bipolar.*

A Huge Thank You

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Last night I was overwhelmed with gratitude and felt as though I was finally able to reach out and tell my story. My story that is completely consumed by my living with bipolar. It was so great to also have heard from so many people who commented on how much they understood, been there and how I was able to actually help them! I hope that I am able to continue to connect with everyone with my future posts. For the first time in a long time I feel as though I am not alone. That  there are people out there that not only understand but have also been where I have as well. I have always loved writing and had put it on the back burner due to various reasons. Having my writing actually read by everyone has also has helped me regain my confidence in my ability to write again. Thank you so much!

Suicide Attempt and Psychiatric Hospital Stays

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I hope that everyone hasn’t given up on myself and my blog. I have had a really tough go of things over the last 6-8 months. As many of you know 2013 did not get off to a great start. I had major surgery last February and my brothers drug addiction is completely out of control. I actually haven’t heard from him since just before Christmas. It’s sad but it is what it is. I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog because my head has been a mess and I have spun completely out of control.

In late August, I had to change psychiatrist due to insurance and for whatever reason this new doctor didn’t believe that Lamictal was an effective mood stabiliser. It seemed to work well for me since 2007 but, since I’m not a doctor, I went with his opinion. *Since this whole fiasco I have had many psychiatrists disagree with his opinion and, in fact have told me that Lamictal is one of the leading mood stabalisers on the market for people who can’t or refuse to take Lithium or Depakote. I am bipolar and do have the occasional dips and rises but nothing too extreme to consider an episode. The psychiatrist decided to take me off the Lamictal and replace it with Trileptal. I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating right, became manic (fun at first) and then I began to isolated myself. I knew I wasn’t in a great place when I began to go “inside” my head because the reality of life was just too scary. I have always referred to this behaviour as “Going into Wonderland” because of my love for all things Alice.

I deteriorated to the point of being unpredictable and my eldest son never knew what to expect when he came home from school. Would I be happy, irate, depressed or hallucinating that there were dragons in the kitchen. Let’s also not forget the paranoia that kicked in. I was paranoid that I was followed every time I left the house.

I was able to hide it, for the most part, from my husband because he works extremely long hours and because he hates to see me like that he will turn a blind eye to my symptoms. He will often downplay them in his own mind. By October it was becoming more difficult to hide or ignore my mental state due to my public outbursts, fear of leaving the house and the fact I was popping Xanax like they were candy.

I’m not sure what exactly happened the day it all came crashing down. It was late October and we had met up with my family for my sister’s birthday. It started as an ordinary day. They all went to a pumpkin patch, which we declined because I just couldn’t face an outdoor excursion and we met up with them later that day for lunch. We had a really nice lunch and I was even talking to them about hosting a Bonfire Night party in a couple of weeks. My brother wasn’t at lunch but he was never around anymore.

Later that evening I felt a bit distant but nothing out of the “new” ordinary that had become my life. I went upstairs to take a bath and relax with some music. I’m still not sure why but I became extremely melancholy about life in general and how I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like I was able to be the mother and wife I wanted to be. I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time my life felt “normal” and less of a disaster zone. It was then that I got out the bath, dried off and took an entire bottle of Xanax and half a bottle of Klonopin. I remember simply laying down and thinking to myself that I would just go to sleep and have it all be over. The disaster that was me would be no more.

My husband, for some strange reason, had thought to come check on me. He says that he just had a sense that something wasn’t right. It had been too long from the time the bath drained. When he came upstairs I was already passed out with the empty bottles of pills in the bathroom. What happened next is a complete blank. My husband told me that he rushed me to our local ER and they immediately went to work on flushing everything out. Unfortunately they couldn’t give me a shot of something needed to reverse some of the damage due to the other medications I am on. They told him that it would cause a seizure. They also felt that “pumping my stomach” wouldn’t do much good because the pills were already absorbed. Basically they continued to flush my system with saline and something else while my poor husband had some of the worse hours of his life. All he could do was sit by my side and hope that I woke up. My blood pressure was barely there and it took hours before they were able to get any signs that I might come back.

It took me almost 24 hours to come back and open my eyes. Even then it was brief and I was out again. As I mentioned before, I don’t remember any of this. My husband told me some of the details and the rest came from the hospital report. Needless to say my next stop was the Psychiatric Hospital.

More about that to come in my next blog. I promise to not leave it so long.

Finding your Purpose in Life?

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How many of you have questioned the purpose of your existence? I’ve gone through this a lot lately. I have always been sympathetic towards animals and the idea that all life is valuable and meaningful. I wonder if I was born with this ideology inside of me or if I came to this through experiences in my life.

My mother has always loved to tell the story about the time she took me to see Bambi in the cinema. I ran out of the film when Bambi’s mother was killed by the hunter with a single shot. I was inconsolable. To this day I have yet to watch Bambi and my boys have never seen it either. I was also keenly aware by the age of five that the meat on our plate was an animal. This made dinnertime quite an exhausting experience for my poor parents.

My animal welfare/rights moments came and went as I grew up but I always had a struggle with the “value of life” going on in the back of my mind. I became conflicted when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 23 and required chemotherapy and radiation. I wasn’t naive and I realized that the same various poisons/drugs that I needed to save my life had been injected into many helpless animals during the drug “trial” stages. Through my treatment I felt a sense of guilt and gratitude. Had it not been for the animals that had their life cut short by being injected with these poisons, I probably would not be here today. My son, who was 6 months old when I was diagnosed, would have grown up motherless. My second son would never have been born at all. I was very blessed and eternally grateful.

A few months after I had finished my treatment, the enormity of it all hit me. The cancer, treatment, motherhood, my mortality and the fate of those who had no option but to give their lives to “the cause.” I had a complete mental breakdown and ended up in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

I began to wonder how it came to be, that one life was more valuable than another? Not only was I physically damaged but I was now also mentally damaged. Who determined that my life was worth the suffering of another. I then had to revisit that awful feeling that I now, and forever, would need medication to keep my mood stable. Medication that would have also been tested on animals. If nature took its course I would not have survived my cancer and I certainly would not be able to manage my Bipolar Disorder.

Once my mood became stable and I began to recover from my illness I was determined to honor the animals who had to suffer for my health. I would make better choices with regards to animal welfare. I  would teach my son that animals live, breathe and feel things just as we do. I would teach him that cruelty was just that, whether human or animal. My boys have never been to a circus or Sea World. Whenever they asked why we couldn’t, I would explain that animals were not meant to be held in unnatural conditions and taught to do tricks for our entertainment.

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change the world. My passion faded through the years, as family life set in and became stressful and hectic. I became complacent with life around me and didn’t think much about the suffering of animals. Maybe it was my hysterectomy last February that gave me a reminder of a promise that I had once made. Whatever the reason I became even more determined to not only teach my children how to live a more humane life but to also fight for animal welfare and end the cruelty.

The thing about becoming an activist is that it leaves your heart open to pain and suffering. It also makes you an easy target for being labeled “one of those” people. These things are a minor issue when you believe in your heart that you are making a difference. I want to help put an end to the needless suffering cause by factory farming practices. I want to help put an end to the fur trade, trophy hunting, underground dog fighting and gas chamber kill shelters (yes, sadly,  they still exist!).

A major part of trying to join the fight to end these atrocities is education. It’s a heart wrenching process that never gets easier and hits the very soul of you like an acid. Another major part is to use your voice because the animals don’t have one. You become their voice and I try to educate people to the horrific acts being carried out on these poor creatures. Creatures that feel just as you and I. They give birth and want to nurture their young, just as humans. They mourn, feel fear and their bodies give out when pushed to the breaking point, which happens too soon due to human exploitation of them. All living creatures deserve to live a full natural life and to be respected, in life and death.

My family doesn’t get it. My husband wasn’t raised with any connection to animals and didn’t even have so much as a goldfish. This, as you might imagine, causes conflict in our home. I embarrass him when I speak out in public about animal welfare and he grows tired of me explaining the ways of factory farming, etc. to our boys. Lately I have felt as though I’m failing in my effort protect the animals that I made a promise to long ago. I am feeling as though I will never make a difference. I am beginning to lose hope above all else. Why am I here? Why was I saved? What is my purpose?

*Feel free to share, reblog or link any of my posts. My blog is out here in the hopes to help other people who live bipolar.