Pay it Forward

I’ve been blessed in my life with some very wonderful friends.  Most of them don’t know about my illness, or if they do, I don’t trouble them with my ups & downs because I don’t wish to invade their lives.  Perhaps it’s not fair of me to rob them of the chance to support me, but it’s how I feel about my bipolar.  (I can be quite stubborn about suffering alone.)  I do allow my friends to support me on other medical issues or when I have a family emergency.

I have one friend who is wonderfully supportive.  When my mom had a heart attack and bypass surgery, she picked my husband and I up at the airport and let us stay at her place.  She was single at the time and living in a small apartment, so she gave her bedroom to my husband and I, while she slept on the couch.  Another time, during a family emergency, she gave me the keys to a spare car in addition to the keys to her house and said, “I’ll see when I see you.  Good Luck.”  When my mother died, she did the same, except she didn’t have a spare car at that point.  She apologized that she couldn’t go to the funeral because she was already committed to a different funeral that day. (Bad time of the year, I guess.)  I love this woman more than she will ever know and there is no way I could ever pay her back for her kindness and support.

Another friend texted me the other day and asked if I had some time to talk to her.  She was scared because she was being tested for a medical problem that was similar to something I had gone through.  We spent two hours on the phone and by the end of it she felt much better, less worried, and we’d even worked out a game plan for how to approach her doctor.

A couple of months ago I spent two hours on the phone listening to a friend who was going through a divorce.  I also listened (read?) via IM.  He was very grateful and listed my name (along with all the others who supported him) on his Facebook page in a big thank you note.

There have been many times when I’ve listened when someone needed to talk.  Friends or even just acquaintances, and of course, there are times when I can’t.  Times when I am in a “bad headspace” and need the support myself.  I’ve looked for support, but only for more typical things – work relationships, personal relationships, medical issues, etc.  But when it comes to my bipolar, I only look for a handful of people: my husband, occasionally a friend, but mostly my therapist, pdoc, and you, dear readers.

I have sort of gotten off track with the last piece, but what I am trying to tell you is this:  you can’t always pay it back, but you can always pay it forward.


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4 am

It’s 4am and I’m blogging.  I’m blogging because I can’t sleep.  Why can’t I sleep? No clue.  Well, maybe I have a cue, but it’s a bit tenuous.

I suspect it has something to do with Geodon.  Geodon must be taken with food.  Apparently it doesn’t work right unless you take it with a meal that contains at least 500 calories.  Granted, I can reach 500 calories with two candy bars, but that doesn’t appear to be the correct method.  The correct method would be 500 calories worth of steak, potatoes & vegetables.

But maybe I don’t always each the right kind of 500 calories because Geodon affects me differently on different days.  Some days it makes me loopy and I can’t think after about 2 hours. Other times it does nothing.  Like tonight.  I took my Lyrica, nothing. Geodon, nothing. Klonipin, nothing.  Nothing put me to sleep.  (Although I have to admit this second bit of Klonipin seems to be helping. Don’t worry, it’s shrink-approved.)

If this lack of Geodon side effects is really related to the right kind of food eaten, then probably it is also related to how you take it.  Be sure and take it right after you have finished eating, not just before you eat, nor 30 minutes after you have eaten.  It doesn’t matter if you are still full, you will need more food.  But at that point, it’s really just too late.

So here I find myself, blogging at 4am.  Oops, make that 5am.

Hmm, I think I’ll try that sleep thing again.

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Quietly contemplating

I’ve been very quiet lately. I’ve been contemplating what it is that’s going on in my life. I find that I tend to get very quiet when I am thinking. It’s because I have a hard time concentrating. I confess I am very bad at multitasking.

Sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m contemplating. It’s as if I simply just don’t want to talk to anyone or deal with anyone. I haven’t even been on Facebook much lately. If you knew me better, you’d know that I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Right now I’m not even playing my games. Maybe I’m just depressed. I am trying to check my moods, but it’s easier said than done.

That’s the thing – I don’t know how I am feeling. It’s as if the depression train has slowed down & become clouded – twisted like a Van Gogh painting.

Also, I am incessantly bored with everything. Even things I love are boring. I’m not working on my photos, I am not reading, I’m not doing much of anything.

As for depressing, it’s raining and every body part that has ever been injured hurts. Also, the PC died & our network is down. This post was brought to you by iPhone & 3G.

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Geodon

Oh Geodon, what have you done to me?

The Depression Train was coming for me. It was. I want it to veer off, but it won’t and I can’t move off the tracks. It not only does it run you down, but it grasps you and takes you for a ride. Flinging you into a pit of despair when it’s done with you.

Geodon has slowed the train for me.  It’s still there, the blaring headlight blinding me into submission, the great black steel body intimidating me into compliance.  And it will catch up.  I know it will.  It’s smokey tendrils have already grabbed a hold of my ankle and are trying to knock me off balance.

But can this powerful drug save me? Not completely, not at 40mg, it seems.  And there are other trade offs as well.

Pros:

1) Geodon appears to work.

2) It has not caused any weight gain.

3) Blood sugar levels remain within normal range.

Cons:

1) It makes me dizzy/sleepy so that I have to go to bed within a couple of hours.

2) It has to be taken with a full meal.  (minimum 500 calories)

3) It works best taken twice a day because its half-life is 7 hours.

4) Low levels of Geodon cause anxiety.

Taking it twice a day is impossible because of con #1, 2, & 4.  Let’s start with con #1 –  I need to be a functional individual.  I took 80mg the second night (as prescribed) and I could not move for 14 hours! (2 half-lifes!) So now I take 40mg at night.  Sounds like a good plan, right?  Except that by mid-afternoon, I am a total ADD/manic-depressed nutcase.  No, seriously.  This stuff doesn’t just cause anxiety, this creates mayhem!  So by my rough calculations, this means that there is approximately 10mg of medication in my system leading us to #4.  The problem with #2 is that the only time I eat a total and complete meal is at dinner.  I rarely have more than 200 calories for breakfast.  The other problem is that if I have to travel for work (conferences, etc.) I can’t control when I am able to eat.  It might be 6pm or 9pm, then I would have to be up by 6am the next morning.  And I only get ~2hrs (sometimes 3) between taking the pill and getting knocked off my ass with side effects.  How is that going to work if I have to wine & dine a colleague?

So what’s a girl to do?  All the anti-psychotics cause weight gain and/or blood sugar issues.  Most docs would say, well, I’ll just give you some Metformin and be on our way.  No.  I did not work for a year to lose 40lbs and bring my glucose under control just to take a medication that will kill off more pancreatic cells.  I would rather be crazy.

Plan of Action:  I am going to try to take 80mg at night until I see my p-doc on Monday.  (Don’t worry, this plan is doctor approved.)  Hopefully, this will give me enough data points to draw a conclusion regarding the tapering off.  Can I wake up after 6-7 hours of sleep and be functional?  Does it keep that damn locomotive at bay later in the day?  Otherwise, what’s left for me?  Abilify, with a 30% chance of weight gain at $10 a pill, or lithium.

By the way, has anyone out there ever taken lithium?  Would you be willing to share your experience?

Update: I have found that higher doses of Geodon help so that I am not running into the really low does at the end of the day. Klonopin also seems to help with the anxiety.

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September 11

September 11, 2001

This is a day that Americans will never forget.  This is a day that perhaps the world will never forget.

I remember that morning as if it were yesterday.  My husband and I had an interview with Immigration on September 12.  We had decided that I would take the morning of September 11 off and we would find out where the building was located so that we would not be late for our early morning appointment the next day.

Now I’m not the kind of person who listens to the radio or watches television in the morning.  So to be oblivious of news in the early morning was not unusual for me.  I remember we got into the car and as my husband was backing of the driveway, I turned on the radio. The disk jockeys – the news casters – were talking about the twin towers.  They were talking about airplanes, and explosions, and terrorists?  And first I thought it was a joke, like the original War of the Worlds broadcast.  Something created to build business.  But all the radio stations were broadcasting the same thing.

I turned to my husband and asked, what should we do?

Neither of us had a good answer to that question.  It’s one of those things, where you simply go through the motions because it’s what you can do, it’s what you can comprehend – it’s what makes sense in a situation lacking logic.  So you go forth and do what it was that you started or what is familiar – I think as a coping mechanism.  We knew that we had to find that building, so we drove.

The streets were emptier than normal for that hour of the morning.  We were living in the mountain time zone at the time, and so we were 2 hours behind the events.  We drove in a confused silence.  Focused on our goal.  Listening to the horrors coming through the radio.  Listening as the last plane crashed.

When we finally reached our destination, the parking lot was empty except for the security guards surrounding the perimeter.  A very large man with a very large gun asked us what we were doing there.  In a shaky voice I explained that we had an appointment the next day and we just wanted to find the right building.  He looked at us and said, “You will be rescheduled.”  His voice was cold.  He must have thought we were idiots or at least ignoramuses.  Did we not understand the importance of the situation?  Perhaps not.  We were running on autopilot and we had yet to see the devastation ourselves.

We turned around and went back home. I pondered, should I still go in to work?  It seemed unfathomable, but it seemed like something I needed to do at the time.  So I went into work.  When I got there everyone was grouped together, listening to the radio.  After a while, most of us drifted back to our offices because new information was coming in at a slow trickle.  But I couldn’t work.  I couldn’t concentrate.  You see, I am from New York.  Not the city, but the state.  However, I’ve been to the city several times.  I’ve been to the Twin Towers.  I had pictures – lost slowly over time – but I have the memories of those tall gray towers looming over the city like guardians of our Lady Liberty.

It was a day I will never forget.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.