Devils and Shamans be with You

After the fright of psychosis comes a bit of depression. I was wound so tight and so on edge, maybe this is my body’s way of letting go. Almost like a rag doll. I can follow you around. I can take direction. But, I cannot make a decision. I still have the nightmares. Literally jumping out of my sleep to fears of the devil seeking me. My husband corrals me and repeats I am safe. Falling limp over his chest I sob. This midnight escapade can be 2 minutes or 10 depending on how entrenched in the nightmare/terror I am. Last night I’d say 3 minutes tops.
There is no predicting it. I could lay in a bubble bath all day or have a stressful work day, doesn’t matter. I could be dead tired or wired having to take extra medication. There could be a reprieve for over a week lulling one to think they are over, only to writhe in bed with fear that next night. I’ve run to the kitchen grabbing a knife. I’ve cowered in the corner not recognizing my husband’s voice. I’ve raced to close all the windows as I feared the devil was trying to take all the air. It’s almost always the devil that is after me. Why? Why? What does that mean?
My loving, dutiful, patient husband suggests I need to look inward. Where is the discomfort coming from? I don’t know!!! I shout in my mind. I’m just trying to sleep. If I don’t sleep things get worse in my world and in turn his. It’s a big big deal to get proper sleep w bipolar disorder. I love to sleep, so it’s not for lack of trying.
I’m off work right now due to another psychotic episode. Devils and shamans this time. The symbol of shaman for me is a positive, as I have been tortured by only satanic hallucinations in the past. I still suffer through intrusive thoughts and voices telling me I don’t belong here. Suicidal ideation is a large part of my struggle.
I’m attending an outpatient program that happens to close on Thursdays. Having the whole day ahead of me on my own is daunting. I rely on structure. I typically have a full time job. I had some tasks to take care of today. Boy, did I knock them out in record fashion. Cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, folded laundry, worked out and completed a collage all by 10:30. Too early. With a full day ahead I just went back to bed. But sleep escaped me.
I filled my day with art. Something I haven’t done since the hospital. I listened to music in my headphones to help drown out the voices. I sat in the backyard w my coffee and walked around our garden foraging for “art supplies.” I pulled weeds, found bits from our pine tree, cut special words from a magazine. Feeling creative juices flowing I didn’t hold back.
Right around 3pm I found myself tearful, wanting to pull my hair out, AGITATED! How could this be? I had the most stress free day imaginable. I burst into tears. I tried to call someone on my clinical team but it seems everyone is off on Thursdays. How ludicrous. No groups and no access to someone to talk to?!
What do I do? First I bitch to my husband realizing that gets me nowhere. Then I take to typing my story. I lay it all out. I may send it into the universe. I may not. But writing, above all else, soothes me the most. I just have to sit still for it.
Nightmares, hallucinations, intrusive thoughts all claw at me. But when I choose the words I want to convey I am free. When I paint my story in type or black&white I am in control. That means the world to me.


The Blur of Psychosis

Is it possible
To fall through the cracks
Of your very own mind
Swept away by thoughts
Caught in a trance
Of deception and lies
It is not by chance
Nor on a whim
You wish on your last star
Or kiss someone goodbye
The plan has been in motion
Through smiles and tears
Finally the
Has proven too much
Broken beyond repair
An inward collapse
An outward stumble
Into psychosis

For me, psychosis is the scariest symptom of my bipolar diagnosis. The lies of depression are a close second. Nothing is more disturbing than realizing I have lost control of my mind. The thoughts that roam around in my brain can turn to visual hallucinations without my realizing. I am not manic. I’m not sure I’m depressed. But if I had to choose I’d say I’m more on the depressed side. The delusions and hallucinations that take up space in my psyche can be very violent, very graphic…very confusing.
Just recently I was feeling very anxious and experiencing a high volume of work stress. I knew these things to be true. I was also experiencing insomnia. One morning after just about no sleep I called my boss and let her know I would be coming in late. I usually arrive at 7:30, which is about an hour before anyone else. This allows me to get settled if my anxiety is high before I have to pretend to be normal. So, I arrived about 9:30am on this morning.
The door to my office is in our courtyard where tables and chairs are available for breaks and lunch. As I approached the courtyard I noticed a Shaman sitting at a table gesturing me over. He took a big breath in-he was smelling my essence or aura I guess. He advised my blood was not pure. My system was compromised and I was toxic. He gave me a natural prescription w called for some fasting from food and medication. I felt relieved I had a solid lab I could follow. The last thing he said was my compromised system left me prey for the devil.
I noticed while I was standing there the air was so silent. No movement of trees, no coworkers passing by. Just stillness. He had a leathery face and a grisly voice. What stood out most was he barely opened his eyes the entire time. I was not sure if he was blind or what. I quickly went inside and sent a message to my husband. Of course he called w in 5 minutes declaring this interaction I just had was not real. I heard his voice, saw his face..I rebutted. He stated the “prescription” was not healthy. He asked me to please call my doctor. I stood my ground. I knew what I saw. What I heard.
The following day I had to travel about an hour to our sister office. I saw the Shaman twice. Once, again outside of the office and once in the park. This time he didn’t seem so calm, rather was chanting and moving his body. Over and over he repeated the devil is upon you. The devil is upon you. I was very scared and began to feel this dark presence near me, but could not see anything. It was just lurking.
I managed to get through my work day. Not sure how. I think because it ended up being a low stress day. I didn’t forget about the Shaman or the devil but was present enough to get some tasks completed. It was later it all would come back to haunt me.
Later on that evening I began to believe I was on the Devils hit list. I was inherently a bad person and therefore must die. As all this was happening, 2 men from the local church knocked on my door. Asked me a couple questions and I heard I was a sinner and I was going to hell. They gave me a brochure that clearly spelled out my dissent. This further ignited the delusion the devil was out to get me. I never felt so vulnerable and alone.
What I am forgetting to tell you is that I had a therapy appointment somewhere in here. I was verbal, but distracted, scared, and scattered. She asked me about crisis residential. I said no thank you. She asked me to keep it in mind.
Home alone w my thoughts, fears, delusions and hallucinations my mind turned to suicide. I could very easily commit an act I believe would solve all these terrors. Yet there is this innate resilience that keeps me here. I don’t remember dialing the phone, but I was connected to my psychiatrist asking about crisis residential. She
started the process right away. She promised I would go somewhere safe. She wished me a peaceful weekend and hung up. All that was left to do was wait. Oh and have faith my doctor would make good on her promise.

Rabbit Hole

Straining for breath. There is not enough air. There is not enough room. I can feel the sides. I can see the ceiling through the darkness. Its really fucking dark. I cannot move. Locked in a coffin. I am locked in a coffin. All I can do is scream. Beg. Beg for someone to please set me free. My husband’s voice comes to me and he says, Its Open!  As I wrestle with this night terror and come to fully wake, I burst into tears. He reassures me it is only a dream. I am safe. I am home. He is right beside me.

Right now, 24 hours later if I close my eyes I can feel the coffin surrounding me, confining me. Stealing my right to life. I didn’t go back to sleep.  I couldn’t trust myself, rather my mind. I got up at the usual time 5:45am. I had a few things on the agenda for the day. I no longer attend my outpatient program. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Its so easy for me to fall into depression without structure, purpose, meaning for the day. Sometimes I can create it for myself, but other times I just sit and stare at a tv that isn’t even on.  Its an open invitation to return if I feel I need it. I hope to not need it, but we will see. There is no return to work date at this point. I feel trapped by the work dilemma. If I go to work I have structure, purpose, meaning…but stress, demands and deadlines.  If I don’t go to work, I risk lack of structure and fall prey to depression.  However, my mind is not right. Period.

As I was saying, I had things I wanted to accomplish. The task of cleaning the kitchen after my husband did his usual Sunday cooking was calling me. Mopping the tile floors after the rain is a necessity. Going to bank and library a must. The one “errand” I was looking forward to was getting my hair colored.  In the midst of cleaning the kitchen I decided to take the recycling out as it was overflowing the hallway. I carried the load to the bins in the backyard. Upon returning to the back door I found it very hard to push open. It took me several tries. Once I pushed through, I found the reason…a coffin laying in the hallway.  Another coffin was perched at the very end of this long hallway at the front door. The devil was whispering..going straight to hell.

My goal is to be able to take a pause and realize this is a hallucination before I “buy into it.” When I am alone, it just seems I cannot find that tool. I screamed and it echoed in our hallway. I burst into tears. I stood frozen. I didn’t know what to do, where to go.  Time also stood still. I don’t know how long I was there.  Any amount of time was too long.  Slowly I calmed my breath. I opened my eyes and the coffins were not there. I sat on the couch and stared at the tv. Then, without much hesitation, I went back to bed. I buried myself deep under the covers. I’m not sure I slept so much as allowed myself to fall through the rabbit hole.

I don’t understand why this darkness consumes me. I am in need of an explanation.  Or, really, I am in need of confirmation this is not my fault in some way. I am not evil or sinister within my soul. On one hand I do understand this is the bipolar disorder. On the other, I really question that is the sole answer. The same themes taunt me.  I don’t know what I would do if it were truly about me. Go to church? Become vegetarian? Something to cleanse myself.  I have saged the house. I go to acupuncture.  I am kind and empathetic towards people.  Two months of this. Insecurity. Anxiety. I don’t know when these hallucinations are going to come.  That’s just as scary as when they do arrive.

This Just Is

How easily I push send and my words, emotions, insides are sent into the digital stratosphere. Yet, picking up the phone to simply send a text indicating I’m having a hard time is nearly impossible. I do not want you to know that side of me. Just yesterday we sat drinking coffee and laughing. New in our friendship. Colleagues. But also so much more as we share a secret. Alcoholism. I am one step ahead with a mental illness as well. I carry bipolar disorder in one pocket and alcoholism in the other. I am coming up on a “birthday” as they say. I will have 3 years in mid December.

You professed that if I ever needed ANYTHING, ANYTIME, you would do all that you could in that moment to help me. Today I am drowning in my own thoughts. Intrusive thoughts of self harm. Loud voices reminding me I have no friends. Other than my husband, who is extremely burnt out on me, I have no one. So, I reach out. I do opposite action and send a text.  All I asked was that he tell me about his day…distraction. I already scoured the kitchen clean. I already took a nap. The only energy I have left is to follow through on the flashes of suggestions. Suggestions on ways I could end my life right here and now.

This episode I am experiencing is very painful. Its long. Its slowly killing my spirit. I was told by one doctor this new medication was “fast acting.” We could expect to see results in as little as 4 days. However, my very own doctor confirmed today this med is no faster than any other antipsychotic. So, what the fuck does that mean. 4-6 weeks? 2-3 weeks. Truth is no one knows. Its such a crap shoot, these medications. I let my expectations get the best of me. I desperately need to feel better. I want so much to be in control of my mind again.  Having hallucinations that I harmed my husband is just too much for me. The therapist in my group today suggested it was just like any other symptom.  I disagree. All threats of harm have been directed solely at me.  To think I might have hurt him in any way is beyond what I can handle. To think my mind is even leaning in that direction causes me terrible distress. It makes me feel as if I should exit right about now.

I stay because of him. He is my amazing husband. If you can believe this bout of psychosis that lingers and lingers has brought us closer.  He has really been able to sit with me in the darkest moments and I have been able to let him.  This is new for us. He is so patient and just holds my hand for as long as needed.  Of course, I have always loved him. He is my rock. Right now he is my everything. I couldn’t do this without him. The thoughts I am having toward him scare me.

I want to spare him my pain. My confusion. My violent hallucinations. But, I want him to hold me and keep me safe too. The battle that rages in my head is a nonstop storm. I explained to the therapist I hear so many things in my mind at once..its not real, this just is, these are just symptoms. But where is there room for the anger, the frustration that this is happening at all? This continues since October. Are we even on the right path to fixing it? Does anyone know?

Walking in faith, right. Probably the best course of action. I can say I was trying that approach about 3 weeks ago.  Focusing on gratitude. Seeing things for what they are.  At this point in my journey, I am becoming bitter and angry. I remain off work for 2 full months now. No income. No purpose really. No connection.  Mostly sitting in fear. Waiting. I am not a medication person. However, this has me on my knees. Its my only option. Can anyone else see why I might be frustrated? Or is it like the therapist said, think of it like any other symptom. This just IS.

Crawling to Stand

Woke yesterday morning with a sadness draped over me. I didn’t want to open my eyes, but I could no longer sleep.  I just felt this deep depressive weight. If I hadn’t woken up at all, I don’t think I would have been disappointed. What makes this even more despairing is I was on vacation in a beautiful beach town with my best friend, my husband. I was eating at nice restaurants, shopping at nice stores. My husband let me pick out a few things that were quite expensive that I had fallen in love with and he carried them to the register thinking nothing of it. The sun was shining bright. The ocean was a brilliant blue. The sea otter poked his head up to say hello to me as we walked down the pier.  We heard the cries of hundreds of sea lions vying for a spot in the sun. Laying on top of each other, curled up trying to stay warm.

However, the ghosts that have been haunting me followed me to Monterey. I mean the hallucinations graced me with their presence even while I was away.  I heard voices telling me the beach is where I die. I heard a voice telling me to jump from a bluff. Its true…wherever you go, there you are. I was really hoping for a reprieve. Just a mini vacation from my own mind. A respite. Fucking anything that would allow me a little peace just for 2 days.  My husband is worried about me. Asking me over and over if I took my medication or not.  This is not typical behavior for him.  He is the one that has to console me when the voices and visuals come. He is the one that has to hear my hysterical cries of fear. He is the one whose shirt I soak with nonstop tears. Without him, I think I would be in a psych hospital right about now.  The psychosis isn’t lifting. Been with me for a month and a half. Been off work for 2 months.

I am tired. I feel defeated on most days. We drove home from the beach today in silence.  Maybe he was needing a respite from me. I’m not quite sure. Its not like I had much to say either. Don’t get me wrong we had a great time. It was just tainted with my madness. We listened to music as the road carried us home.

We settled back into our little abode. Talked about a few of our favorite things on the trip. Unpacked a few things. Made breakfast.  We both seem to have little energy and opted to flop in front of the tv. I don’t remember what we were watching. I started to hear..if you don’t harm him we will harm you.  It repeated. I looked over at my husband kicking back in the recliner and his neck was slashed and blood was everywhere.  I tried to remind myself this wasn’t real. I again watched tv and again there was chanting of harm. My husband was slumped over in the chair with a wide gash on his throat. I jumped up, muffled a scream and stated I was going to take a nap. I needed this to end.  I was about to burst into tears. I laid down and closed my eyes and tears drenched my pillow.

My husband came into the room and I kept my eyes closed. I could not look at him. I didn’t want to express what was happening for me. I didn’t want him to know the voices were threatening me to harm him. I was scared. I was feeling so alone. He crawled into bed with me. He held my hand. He talked to me. I finally told him what I was hearing and seeing. I told him maybe it would be better if I did just jump off a bridge, then all this would be over. He reassured me that would not be an option he wanted.  I cried so hard I think I almost ran out of tearks.

Psychosis is exhausting and confusing. I’m waiting for my new medication to do its thing and make them disappear. So far, this hasn’t happened. My patience is waning. These hallucinations are unpredictable as far as time and place.  I’m afraid to go running outside by myself. I don’t venture very far from the house. It is shaping the way I move about my life. This is unacceptable, but it’s the way it is.  For now. I’m staying the course and fighting hard. Right now, I’m just tired. My husband promises I’m going to be okay. I’m going to come out the other side.  Even if its crawling. I will soon stand once again.

This Isn’t Real

I had a hallucination last night while my husband was not home. I could have gotten hurt. Maybe even quite hurt had I not “woken” up. I don’t know any other way to say it. I guess I could say, Come back to reality.  I tried to make a ladder with a mish mash of things in our shed. The plan was to get my body, which was very cold and dead, down from the noose which it was hanging from.  What I chose to make the “ladder” with was very unstable, and well just not viable or realistic. I attempted to climb on top, but as would be expected I fell backwards.  I hit the wall, which is made of cinderblock.  This is what jostled me.  In that moment, looking at what I was doing, looking up for something that wasn’t there, I was able to remind myself “this isn’t real, this isn’t real.” This is the much needed mantra I have adopted to help me out of a hallucination when I am by myself. It works sparingly.

I left everything as it was and fled the shed. As I got back to my kitchen and sat down, I could feel anger welling deep inside me. I had no one to call. So I took to my virtual pen and paper to expel the pain. I am writing this to the devil or whatever evil spirit that keeps taunting me:

Can there be no fucking respite? Can I not just have one night to myself. Please explain to me what this is all about. Please step up and show yourself. Tell your story. Accuse me. Blame me. I need to know what it is I have done to deserve this. This torture. This agonizingly slow passing of time where I am at risk of being assaulted.  Assaulted by invisible fucking things by most respects. I tip toe around the corner because I don’t know what might be coming. If you are here please stand tall. I can’t play hide and seek much longer. I don’t like your game, your style, your vicious chanting. I may not be innocent but I am not evil. I will repent. I will make it right. I beg of you to bring the truth forward. Help me solve this painful riddle. Help me out of this maze of confusion and chaos. I can change, if that’s it. I can be quiet. I can be better.  Whatever it is, I can adjust myself.  Until I know what needs to be addressed I am left with this fear. Please, that seems so unfair. I didn’t ask for any of this. I’m trying to accept what is before me. As the days drag on it gets harder not easier. I simply don’t understand.
The tears keep falling as I slowly collapse on the inside.  If it’s defeat you are looking for, declare yourself the victor right now. Take the trophy. Carry it proud. I am weak in the knees. Deflated. Beaten.  I would think this is enough. But no, you just keep coming at me. Please just let me be.

I cried so many tears as I wrote this.  I felt empowered, broken, flawed, alone and beaten all at once. I think I wanted these words to be more powerful in the sense that I was standing my ground.  But, I have to honor where I was at that moment. Let the words hold the power as they are.  There is still time for more pungent rhetoric.  This feels like a battle and I may not have won yesterday, but there is a second chance today.

Rise Up

Have you ever regretted being honest with your psychiatrist? I mean raw with your words? With your description of events? I now find myself in a position where I’m defending myself. I’m defending against her strong recommendation I go to a Crisis Residential setting.  I was simply being honest in an update. I just started a new medication and of course I’m on high alert for well, anything.  I think anybody would be.

It wasn’t a good night. I thought the devil was in the house and I needed to protect myself. I couldn’t tolerate the chanting. I grabbed a knife, the biggest one we have. I stood heavy in my body. I held the knife high. I purposely wasn’t tense, so I could be quick. I don’t necessarily know how to fight evil, but was determined to stand my ground. If the devil was coming for me, I was ready.  Little did I know, I so wasn’t ready.  My husband flew into the kitchen after me and pried the knife out of my hands, fairly easily I think.

The chanting, loud, demeaning, and demanding, was too much for me. I had to cover my ears. It just wouldn’t stop.  I yelled at it to “GO AWAY!” “STOP!” But, my demands were not met. At least not immediately. I dove into my husband’s chest with such force he fell back. I couldn’t be held tight enough.  Nothing could convince me the voices weren’t predicting me future.  Soon, not sure how soon, I would die.  I was willing to go back to bed, but not to go to sleep. I didn’t feel safe.  I sat straight up several times fearing I could hear him. My husband would just rub my back and I laid back down. Sleep finally came.

I think the idea of going to the crisis residential is for quick medication adjustments, as well as trained staff available 24 hours per day. I understand. However, I do not thrive in those types of environments. I tend to get overly anxious in new environments where I have to be social. This would be about 6 women living in a home for a short stay while contending with their mental health issues.  I did not handle this very same environment when I was trying to get sober. I had a terrible time fitting in and feeling comfortable.  Whereas at home, I have my own routines and my husband who knows me well and knows how to talk to me when these types of situations occur. Plus, these hallucinations only tend to last half an hour to an hour in length. Rarely 2 hours. The rest of the 24 hour day I am pretty good on my own, esp knowing my husband is available if I need him. I don’t want to sound foolish and minimize what is happening for me, it is very frightening and disturbing. It then becomes disheartening.  But, not to the point I need the level of supervision being recommended.

Honesty is the best policy. Or Honesty is the best medicine. Any way you slice it, I have to keep telling the truth. I have to talk about what is happening. I have to use my words to explain things in the exact way I remember them to be. The moment I shut down, all that I have falls apart. I fall apart.  I want to be in the getting better business. I’m tired of being sick.  I’m tired of hallucinations, delusions and paranoia taking over my life.  Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it’s too long. This road to recovery is the longest I can remember so far. Its painful and monumental at the same time.  My shoes are wearing thin. My mind is over tired. My cheeks cannot take another stream of tears. While this is all true and I feel the pain all the way down to my toes, I will still rise up tomorrow to face another day.

The Devil in Me

I literally shudder when I think about it. Remember it. Feel it.  The other night I felt the devil pass through me and I believe he implanted a chip in me.  His dark shadowy presence falling into mine felt like when a very cold wind grabs you and pushes right through you. I’m thinking like in the streets of Chicago or New York in the dead of winter.  There’s no denying that feeling. There’s no protection from that kind of force.

It wasn’t so matter of fact the other night. I was terrified. I was pacing. I was breathless. I was disoriented. I was stammering that a chip had been placed inside me during this encounter. I was now a pawn in the devil’s game of hide and seek.  My husband had to physically shake me along with calling my name several times to bring me back to reality. His reality. He explained the devil did no such thing. This is a hallucination.  THIS is not real. He must have felt the need to say it again. I heard him. I truly did. But, I did not believe him. He did not feel the sheer presence of another object pass through flesh and bone the way I did.

My husband guided my breathing. He slowed me down. He slowed his words down so I would understand. He held me tight. He let me cry. He encouraged me to let it all out. I sobbed uncontrollably pressed up against him as tight as possible. I carried on about why evil is now apart of me.  I continued with I must have done something wrong in this lifetime. If only I knew the wrong, I would make it right.  He stroked my hair and said I’ve done nothing wrong. I am a good person.  This is just a bad dream, a very bad dream.  I love you. Our love can battle anything. Once I was done with the waterworks, he helped me get into bed and he went around to his side.  He laid on his back (not how he sleeps) so I could rest on his chest. He counseled me some more with calm, loving, reassuring words.  Tears began to flow again in pained wretches.  What was I going to do, I asked? He had no answers. He was silently scared. Scared of my behavior. Scared of the belief system that was building up.  He just held my hand that much tighter.

As we tried to drift asleep, I could swear I saw the chip glowing in my right index finger. I moved it around and it held its “light.” I froze.  What does this mean? He can watch my every move. He will be tracing me. He will be planning his attack and my demise. This is going to be it I thought. I stared at it for I don’t know how long before I fell asleep. In the morning, I was cautious. I moved gingerly when the alarm went off. I wasn’t sure if the chip was still there.  I wasn’t sure how my husband was feeling about the night’s events.  I honestly don’t remember if we talked about it. I don’t think so as he had to get ready for work.  I think he told me to try and reality check myself as much as possible.

I had the whole day to myself. I tried to watch television and drink coffee but I couldn’t handle sitting still. I had to be moving. I was agitated. I cleaned the house furiously. In the process of cleaning the bathroom I was down on my hands and knees mopping the floor when the door slammed closed.  Chants of You must die came from every corner. As I gave one more wipe, blood smeared on the floor. Blood was coming from my wrists. I began to cry. Once I got up the nerve to try, I pried the door open fairly easily.

My instinct was to get the fuck out of the house as this was a precursor to the devil’s arrival. I scurried around the house to change clothes and put on shoes. The need to vacate the premises was very high. I was scared he was already on his way. The fear in me was so strong, even if I had a gun it wouldn’t satisfy me. Out of the house, in public was the best place.

I practically ran down my street. I had no real plan other than escape. I ended up on a walking trail near the river that leads to a park. It was familiar. Plus, I thought there might be people around. Problem is I underestimated my paranoia.  There is a dirt trail that parts from the blacktop trail which I like to take. It eventually meets back up with the blacktop.  About ½ mile ahead to that meeting point a woman was just standing at the gate. I began to think she was waiting for me. I thought about turning around, however a man was just entering this trail from where I did. They both could be coming for me. It would be 2:1. I just stood in the middle of the trail for several minutes weighing my options. I thought I might have a better chance fighting the woman if need be. I kept my eye glued to her every minute as I edged closer and closer.  Just as I was about to reach the gate, she simply disappeared. Did I make this scenario up? Was she ever there?  All that mattered was getting to the park, so I marched on.

Approaching the park, I saw a man with a hooded sweatshirt, long beard and sunglasses sitting on a bench that faced the river.  You might miss him if you weren’t as hyper alert as I was. Immediately I guessed he was placed there by the devil. I walked slower and watched him out of the corner of my eye. No movement from the man.  That could be either good or bad. My gut had me move on.

I spotted a playground and decided I was going to swing. I imagined myself feeling free flying in the air. I used to love to swing as a kid. Seemed like the perfect antidote. The ratio of adults to kids was strong, which meant there was safety in numbers.  I sat in the black rubber saddle and started pumping my feet. The sun warming my face and the wind created by my own body was awakening.  I leaned back and felt that little rumble in my stomach.  I closed my eyes without thinking. I was finally comfortable. I was determined to swing the agitation away. The ritual of pumping my legs took my mind off the devil and his confidantes. I wondered if he was watching. Wishing he too could let go for just a minute. Freedom comes in all types: short, sweet, incremental or sustained. I was hoping for sustained, but accepted sweet increments.

As the paranoia and agitation eased, so did my desire to swing ever higher. I slowed down. I relaxed. I allowed the moment to be just as it was, an escape.  I ran from the devil, but in reality I really needed to escape my mind. My feet dragged the sand as I stopped my momentum. I sat feeling the rubber holding my body upright. I noticed my shoes stained with dirt. I gathered myself to head back down the trail home.  If I encountered anyone along the way, I planned to smile. After all, it was a beautiful day.

Medication chronicles

Bipolar is stealing my thunder.  The symptoms I am experiencing now have me cowering in fear and then hysterical in tears. I feel like I have no say in the matter, no strength. My tool box is out of reach when these “attacks” as my husband refers to them come a calling. Its not a panic attack per se, but it causes panic. I tend to stop breathing, I get disoriented, my heart beats wildly.  It’s the hallucinations first, then panic, then hysteria? I don’t really know what it actually looks like when I am in it. All I know is its painfully scary. I am being terrorized by my own mind.

It is now 5am, I have been up since 3am.  I had a night terror/hallucination. I’m not sure of the correct psycho babble label for it. Pretty much I had gone to the bathroom. Then settling in trying to go back to sleep. I think I was almost there when I felt, and I mean FELT, a rope (noose) around my neck and I could not breathe. I was gasping for air. I eeked out the words, please help me in a voice I didn’t recognize. I was thrashing around. My husband immediately woke up, I don’t think anyone could sleep through this. He nearly laid on top of me to calm me down. He reassured me I was safe. No one else was in our bedroom, there was no rope and I am okay.

All I could mutter through pained sobs was, “they are trying to kill me. They are really coming for me. I don’t know what to do”. I could still feel the rope and wondered if there was a burn mark. I wondered how much longer I could endure these “attacks.” I started thinking maybe I should just end it now, rather than wait for whatever is out there trying to get me. I thought about options. I may need to rid myself of the evil that is trying to invade me.  The devil has made his wishes known for some time now. That I must die.  Better by my design than his.

Meanwhile, my husband was holding my hand or touching my body to let me know he was there. He also has endured. This has been happening since mid October.  He has caught me and held me in a fit of emotion in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in our bedroom and in public.  His strength is carrying me through. He promises there is no judgement. His love is not wavering. He promises he is not going anywhere.  He is here and will always be here no matter what.  Lately, it seems he is always standing at the ready. I am forever grateful and feel like a huge burden at the same time.

I’m constantly on edge. Any noise, any noise at all, and my head is at full tilt. Just this morning, the sound of my cats chomping on their food raised my anxiety level. Only because I didn’t think that’s what it sounded like. I didn’t know what it was and that was the problem.

I had hoped to start a new medication today. I have never uttered that sentence in my life.  Not a fan of medication. Especially not a fan of those of the antipsychotic persuasion. I hate that I am clinging to the idea that it will save my life. Feeling like its all I have left.  I am trying and trying to get better but my mind has its own ideas and they are detrimental. They are damaging my belief in myself.

I stood at the pharmacy counter checking to see if this mighty miracle had arrived. Somehow I knew it hadn’t. They told me the manufacturer is actually out of the medication. They were not able to fulfill the shipment. WHAT?  Since when do medications run out? She replied more than I realize. Tears were in the back of my eyes. She said she would like to give me the generic brand, which they do have. However, my doctor has specified it has to be the Brand only in her notes.  So, someone has to check with her to see if generic will pass or???  This woman behind the counter promised she would call me by the end of the day with information.  All the information I have is that something in the universe is wanting to keep me ill. I must have done something awful along this lifetime and something is trying to kill me. I think it’s the devil.  Evil lurks inside me, deep. He is coming to take me home.

Medications and Faith

I am trying to walk in faith regarding a change in medications. I guess I am trying to walk in faith with my life.  I am not a very religious person, so you can imagine how challenging this is.  I am a “ I need to know why!” kind of person. Just letting go and trusting the process is nearly impossible. In fact, if I am honest, I just don’t think I understand how this is possible. However, I have seen the fruits of such a mentality. I have a friend whose depression has caused him to make decisions that are not in his best interest, especially in where he is choosing to live. He came upon the idea to build a tiny house. Build it himself. So, not only will he have his very own place to live, but his hands will be busy for months. Brilliant plan.  He had made a real estate transaction in another state and needed to spend the money fairly quickly. He knew the tiny house was the answer for him. He started buying trailers to build on before he even had land to live on.  He scoured over plans and designs and finally created one of his own.  To me, this was all so risky. No solid plan. No land. But, trailers.  He simply walked in faith this was his destiny and things would work out if he did the footwork. Sure enough he was right. He is in the middle of construction right this very moment.

I am in a very unstable place in my life. I am attending an outpatient program 5 days per week. Most folks only stay for 2 weeks, gathering strength and education from groups each day.  Oh no, not the fanatic. I do things the hard way. The long way. Taking my sweet time to get better.  Why not extend my leave from work and extend my guilt of not pulling my weight at the office. I have access to a psychiatrist everyday at this program. One that only reads my record, doesn’t know me for me.  I was worried about my Latuda dosage and its effect on the psychosis.  The psychiatrist that day told me I had a very complicated case and it would probably be best to see my own doctor who knows me well.  No shit Sherlock. But, I think we are stuck with each other as that’s how this works.  Complicated? What does that mean? Impossible? Unworkable? Difficult patient?

As the weeks go on, the instability lingers, the hallucinations torture and I take up a seat in the program. The treatment team, well, my treatment team felt I should consider a much heavier medication. I will spare you as I have written about this already. I have only been diagnosed for 2.5 years, but my life has fallen apart since then. I think I have had 6-7 hospitalizations.  Tried numerous medications. Depakote made my hair fall out. I literally had to cut off close to 6 inches of curly hair as it had become so damaged. Some left me so restless I couldn’t sit still, some so lethargic I could not function in the morning.  My big requirement was no weight gain.  My very own doctor has done me right by that one standard.

Now, I think she agrees I need something heavier. I agree too. Luckily, she does not agree on the 2 medications that were recommended at the program. Since I have taken Risperdal in the past and it wasn’t terribly problematic she is thinking of another antipsychotic that is a “variant” called Invega.  So, I simply respond okay I will take it. When can I pick it up. She says minimal weight gain. She says we have room with the dosage so I am not too lethargic in the morning and can go to work and function. I go straight to the pharmacy to pick it up. But, they do not have it on hand and must order it. Probably be 4 days.

I drive home and wonder why all this is happening. I let go. I surrender. I will take just about anything at this point and they are OUT?!  Of course as any dutiful medication connoisseur I look up reviews on the internet practically before I even sit down to the computer. I see weight gain all over the place. I see Zombie. Lethargy. No motivation. Hard to get out of bed. I perused about 4 peer review websites. Do I think my doctor is lying to me, manipulating, trying to trick me? Maybe.  I just have to keep reminding myself everyone responds differently.  I tend to have the opposite reaction. If it causes drowsiness, then I am wide awake.  I just have to trust the process. Give it a try.  Bipolar disorder is kicking my ass right now and I need something strong in my arsenal.  Wish me luck. Maybe, just maybe, something is meant to work out for me too.