I spent the past several days heavily intoxicated. I figured it was an appropriate time for another midlife crisis, I suppose. I think I’ve more or less come to terms with the idea that nothing is ever going to change. The bipolar symptoms are not likely to get any better while I am still on prednisone, and I am not likely to be on less prednisone, since nothing else seems to work for my skin. My doctors have never really taken me seriously when I say it fucks me up in the head, and I am apparently unable or unwilling to talk to therapists (and can’t really afford that anymore anyway, but if I could, I still don’t see any point in it). It was a pretty bad week or so, but that’s pretty normal around my birthday.
Over the years, I have read a lot of bipolar disorder (and other mental illness) related websites and blogs. I related to bits and pieces of them. What struck me was that a lot of them talked so much about health and wellness and living in harmony with their mental illnesses. That’s all well and good and I am not disrespecting them, but where were the ones who were not well, who were not living in harmony with anything at all? My guess is that they weren’t blogging much.
I have discussed this before, but I have been in and out of therapy for the past 25 years. I have tried dozens of medications. Nothing helped. Everything cost a lot of money. At great length I decided if I can’t find medications that make me feel better, and if therapy has not helped, then I will have to find a way to live with not feeling good, and in some sense, embrace the idea of not being well.
That’s why I am here, I think. I largely left Facebook because I couldn’t relate to anything on Facebook, not even in the mental illness-related groups. A lot of them seemed very anti-psychiatry, and I am not. I choose not to be on meds anymore, and I choose not to see therapists for the time being, but I am not against any of those things and I think people should try things that might help them. The rest of Facebook seems filled with positive-thinking memes and I’ve also discussed why I dislike those. Happiness is not a choice, and may not be attainable for everyone. Additionally, I think/hope there are things in life other than happiness to strive for.
But mainly, this is a place where I can say whatever I want. If you are reading this, it means you are on my turf and I don’t have to apologize for saying anything disturbing. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. I always felt that everything I posted on Facebook was probably considered distasteful by 90% of the people reading it and I find Facebook to be, on the whole, a very unwelcoming and ugly place.
Another big reason I dislike Facebook is I feel it encourages you to post and repost garbage rather than anything with any sort of content, and it encourages people to press “like” rather than participate in any kind of discussion. I’d rather be here talking to myself than promote that sort of thing.
On the other hand, I liked livejournal a lot when people still used it (which is to say, before Facebook became popular). It had the lj-cut option for longer posts, you could add images and links in the things you wrote, and so on. I think that’s because it encouraged people to think about what they wrote, rather than posting nonsense every five minutes. I’m not saying I’m not guilty of that, too, but leaving Facebook would largely solve that problem. If I’m going to post here, it’s going to be in complete sentences and paragraphs, in any case.
Regarding the content of this article: http://ideas.ted.com/how-should-we-talk-about-mental-health/:
I’ve been saying that about crime for a long time. While it’s true that some of the mass shootings have been done by people diagnosed with mental illness, the media seems to portray it as if any mentally ill person is going to shoot up the nearest school or theater if you give them enough time. Most people with mental illnesses are never going to go on a shooting rampage, but that doesn’t make a good headline so that is completely ignored. It’s no wonder people don’t want to talk about mental illness if people think that makes them dangerous and violent.
However, I completely disagree with the avoiding words like “crazy” and “psycho.” As with any word, it depends on usage. I agree with the Ruby Wax quote in the article. What matters is the idea being conveyed, not so much the words you use to convey it. If you’re belittling a person for being mentally ill, it doesn’t matter if you use the phrase “mentally ill” or “crazy;” what matters is that you’re being an asshole.
I’ve encountered a lot of people who refuse any sort of help with mental illness because it’s regarded more as a personal failing than a medical issue, and people should just “suck it up” and deal with it. It is not considered the same at all. If you have high blood pressure, you’re not considered a weak person for taking HBP medication; you’re considered to be a person taking care of their health. Not so with mental illnesses; if you take medications you’re considered to be “running away from your problems” or thinking that “popping pills can fix everything.” If you’re less depressed on your anti-depressants, then your happiness is false and not valid, also.
When I was young, my parents never told anyone that I was seeing therapists, had been hospitalized for mental illness, or was taking psychiatric medication because of the stigma. My mom even shushed me once as an adult because I said I’d been to the therapist earlier that day before going out for dinner with relatives. Apparently seeing a therapist is something so shameful you don’t talk about it. You’re supposed to lie and say you were seeing the optometrist or something. It is regarded as a personal failure and not a “real” health problem.
And this is why I think people need to talk about it more. The more people are exposed to the idea that “crazy people” aren’t necessarily going to kill them, the less stigma there will be. Another thing I’ve encountered with bipolar disorder is that people seem to say it’s somehow wrong for me to show emotions because they are used to me being in a depressed state, where I am very stoic and Vulcan-like, and they seem to try to discourage me from talking at all because this apparently makes them uncomfortable or clashes with their idea of what kind of a person I am. But again, that’s why I turn to blogging: it’s a monologue. I am able to express myself as long as there isn’t anyone else around to act like I’m making them uncomfortable or like they just wish I would shut up. I am not good at talking to people face to face.
My dermatologist has increased my mycophenolate, will need more bloodtests to make sure that isn’t killing me. They don’t want to change the prednisone yet because they don’t want me to end up in the hospital. That’s all well and good except being on this high a dose of prednisone makes me want to die about 8 hours a day. The rest of the hours I mostly stare into space. I have found myself in a sort of shitty situation where I will die without the medications, but the medications make me want to die.
It has been several months now since the bad chemicals in my head have changed their configuration. It might be not quite perfect to refer to things as only mania and depression, but that’s the best vocabulary I have at the moment. Sometimes I’m on, sometimes I’m off. I’ve been on nonstop since last August, and it’s beginning to wear on me.
I find it kind of funny, though; I spent the whole time I was depressed wishing I was manic, and now that I am, I’ve actually found myself longing for the depression. I know I don’t really want that, either, though.
This is greatly complicated by the medications I am on. I am convinced that there is little hope of psych drugs stabilizing my moods. I have tried that, and with fucking disastrous results (nearly hospitalized once) and no psychological changes. I don’t like therapy and I don’t feel like it helps me or has ever helped me or ever will. And it was costing me hundreds of dollars a month. I feel like my problem, other than the obvious bipolar disorder, is that it is complicated by the medications (corticosteroids), which exascerbate it and make it sort of unbearable, except for short periods of time when I am falling down drunk or engaging in ebay/amazon “retail therapy” (lol), which is to say, obsessively buying shit and then obsessively organizing and reorganizing the same shit. Books are nice, too. Started writing again and have been drawing more. If I can’t sleep, I have about 50 books of classical sheet music, and I do enjoy just kind of zoning out and playing some Beethoven on the piano. It is almost relaxing.
I could function more or less like a human before the prednisone. With the prednisone, I am barely holding my shit together. The depression sounds nice just because it seems like a very stable, calm, Vulcan-like state, but while depressed, I really I am just completely numb, apathetic, can’t enjoy anything, and am vaguely sick of being alive. While manic, I can be irritable, I can start raging or crying at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, I alternate between extreme egomania and something like a post-Catholicism super-masochistic martyrdom complex, but I am very productive and when I enjoy shit, I enjoy shit a lot. So there are good and bad points.
I have tried probably dozens of drugs over the years (talking about psych meds here) and nothing ever had any positive impact on me. Most of the time there was no change at all, and if there was, it was something unpleasant like an allergic rash (depakote) or constant diarrhea for months on end (prozac), or the zombie-like state I was in when they had me on anti-psychotics in the late ’90s.
I have given up on being stable. Part of me enjoys being unstable, just not *this* fucking unstable. So I am just hoping I can reduce the corticosteroids, maybe find something else that works, and at least get to the point where, if necessary, I can more or less pass as a human for short periods of time. I’m not there at this point, I’m more like a very volatile walking pharmacy/toxic waste dump.
Was just at my grandparents’ house drinking rum with my uncle. Everyone was talking about incidence of mental illness in our family. The uncle lived with the cousin with bipolar that just died a few days ago a long time ago in New York City.
Feel bad about drinking half the bottle of captain morgan’s but hell, weak fucking alcohol… I am used to Bacardi 151… Their fault for buying weak ass alcohol…
It is true that one can make friends on the internet, and there are people I consider my friends.
But what I mean is that I don’t feel that I have any type of support network, or if I was upset about something, there is no one in particular I would go to to talk about it, either online or off. (Even if people say I could, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so most of the time, or it’s hard to catch people online in a mood where talking to them would work) And if what I want would be friends to hang out with, or if I’m upset about having been single for a few thousand years, I don’t think the internet is going to help me there.
Mostly I use the internet for talking to people about biotechnology and music, or debating about abortion or religion. I don’t consider any of that the equivalent of having people to talk to one on one. So I mostly either talk online about politics, or write some crazy rants the same way I’d write in a diary if I still wrote stuff on paper without any expectations of people caring or even responding in a meaningful way most of the time.
Now the dermatologist increased both my prednisone and my cellcept dosages. The prednisone makes the mania worse. The cellcept makes my insomnia worse, and insomnia makes the mania worse.
I’m not sure if these things affect me more than many other people, or if doctors just have little experience dealing with bipolar people on corticosteroids, or if it’s just a communication issue, namely, I don’t make it clear to them how fucking nuts I get when I am on large amounts of steroids. But then, would it matter anyway? I apparently need to be on them.
I had been doing well enough, but being sick and on a lot of meds trying to deal with the coughing and congestion hasn’t helped. I am glad the holidays are over. This is the first year I can recall that I not only didn’t receive any presents (other than from my mom and 1 cousin) and also didn’t receive any cards, emails, texts, phone calls, etc. That usually doesn’t bother me much but I have been unstable as of late. I do usually deactivate my Facebook around my birthday so no one reminds me of my birthday, but then it messes up the groups I’m an admin of.
The one student loan place is sending me mails about my forbearance being denied. Insurance copays have doubled. Worried about financial things a lot. I need to reschedule my dermatologist appointment because my mom won’t drive in the snow and there is no way I can get there this month. I do miss that about Pittsburgh; being able to take the trolley or bus wherever and not have to rely on other people. I once bought a big fucking desktop computer in Pittsburgh and carried it onto the trolley and then up the hill to the apartment. Good times. I worry about whether or not I will be able to pass a driving exam, and even if I do, I won’t be able to afford a car and I doubt anyone would lend me theirs for any reason.
Mostly I just don’t really feel like part of humanity though, I think. My therapist said something about depersonalization when I still went to him. I think things like birthdays and holidays only serve to reinforce that feeling.