Friday, January 20, 2017

DRUGSSSSS for BIPOLARARARRR :: January 2017

Everyone has a hobby!
Lately, my daily way to amuse myself is to clean my room. Easily an hour a day. The doctors aren't thrilled by my habits (obsessive habits, as they saw it, make 'em raise an eyebrow) but I'm having a blast!

Today my focus is my top drawer which hosts all of my hair care, face care, first aid, tooth care, menstrual cycle gear, and medications #ilivewith10otherpeoplesoikeepthatstuffinmydresserdrawer.

I came across all the meds they tried me on for bipolar. Two observations on this.

Before that, just noting that I've been, on spurts, been medicated since I was perhaps 12? I had ADHD which was well managed with pills. I remember Adderal, Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, and Straterra. Daytrana was the best one! It was a patch and was super effective but the adhesive left welts on my body.

Now, with a new diagnosis comes a whole new slew of medications.

The first one they put me on is lithium. That stuff is magic and works! Nothing else has been as effective. I was also on oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Luxapro).

What's been most effective, to go with lithium, hasn't been more drugs is lifestyle choices and supplements.

I have to get outside, see the sun, get plenty of sleep, and operate in a routine.

For supplements, L-theanine, fish oil, and D3 have been the key to everything. This was made clear this past week. A week or two, I stopped taking my supplements completely (because I hadn't refilled my pill organizer so in the morning, I would just pop a lithium and run). Then, everything crumbled, a bit. I was all over the place with my mood and definitely felt depressed at time.



Because I have been medication, it catches me off guard when I am all of a sudden depressed. This time, the symptoms were mostly exhaustion. I was so sure I had the flu that I had to cancel work for a morning. Texting was overly exhausting.

Then, at dinner, I brought up how I wasn't doing well and our house-highschooler brought up vitamin D. *facepalm* I realized that that was the only change in my life, no supplements.

I did go to my psychiatrist (good to check in with her) and we decided I would have myself get back into routine with supplements, see how that went, and if it doesn't, I have 2.5 mg of a new med to try out. I also keep going to my support group 'cause they make the world go round.

Life's ok. It'll get better. Just give me a week.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Back to Routine :: Emphasis on Nighttime


I'm glad the winter break is over. With break comes the destruction of all routines that hold thing together. I thrive with bed times, wake up times, ways to pay for living, and a pattern to navigate life with (it's a fun pattern).

Bedtime is most crucial to me, right after sleep. It's important to have a space that feels relaxing, welcoming, and cozy. A clean room helps with my quality of sleep.

Right before Christmas, I changed rooms in the house I live in. I moved up story and the dimensions of the room increased immensely. I basically live in a deliciously cute attic room.

I was absolutely in love with my old room and tend to be resistant to changes (when set in a way) so I had to deliberately set my energy to making this new space feel like a home I wanted to be in. It's absorbed a few hours of my time each day for the past week and a house.

It's the constant adjustment of lights, furniture, hooks, pillows plants, and ways to sort things out. I love organizing, so this is a fun new challenge. My last room had a huge closest with storage above and below the clothing, no such closest here, so all must be externally stored. With the floor space available, very doable.

It's been fun to see a need (such a place to hang towels or a maroon cloth covering for a Rubbermaid tote I've been dragging back and forth from Alaska and all over since 2012.

I'm grateful for housemates (Steve and Jan!) who went out of their way to help me transition. I really appreciate them.

Now I feel like I have a really special place that feels like a home.

Essential to my nights are a hot water bottle with a cozy for it that Hannah made. I sleep with it ever single cold night. I tried not to, the other night, and had to get up and make one. I also need my white noise machine. I feel cozy underneath the thick wool blanket Joey gave me for Christmas and a huge hand-stitched quilt my great great Aunt (or someone that is great great) made. I like cozy pjs and socks and lately, diffused essential oils make everything smell hella good. A cup of one of those teas that knocks me out is good (Sunset in Seattle, Evening in Missoula, Bedtime Tea, etc).

The End

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I Don't Know How Pink Relates to Suicide -- I guess they just picked a colour


I like the hashtags in this one.

For sure, this year, I was ready for things to end a few times. In my circumstances, it was a result of off kilter brain-chemistry.

I've been doing fine, lately (and I'm glad I'm here), but I know that in the future I might not be and that I'll have to work through that. I also know I have friends who aren't "fine" right now and this is for them. The feeling of wanting to end your life is overwhelmingly isolating. A huge comfort this year was in one of those moments, I reached out to one friend and his immediate reply was, "I know." And he did.

Thanks to my support team! There are three specific folks who helped me with the darker thoughts this year --  my mom, is my number one go to (now I'm crying) and I'm grateful that she still comforts me just as much now, as her grown-up 26 year, as she did when I was a child. I also know that I can always call Eric, whom I've known since kindergarten, and Joey and, without fail, they will respond in love, compassion and wisdom. My overall support team spans larger than this but, in the darker moments, these folks were on speed dial.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

5 Months Later


It's been five months since I last wrote. I haven't been able to. Whether too busy or my brain couldn't go there. I miss it. Every time I say I'll write more. I don't know where the words went. I guess they crashed along with the car.

In those five months, I've maintained a stable lifestyle in the same home, secured a stable job, traveled to Alaska and straight to Hawaii from there (where I am now), celebrated my 26th birthday on a semi-remote island with 12 pals and in a cabin Alaska with 26 other pals and on a ferry boat with my boyfriend, found a man who loves me and lets me love him back, went to the Aqua Sox game with my Dad, went to DC, went to Virginia, went to Maryland, toured the West Wing, tea with Mom, lots of time with the folks, trip over the mountains to visit best friend and family, sailed to Lopez Island from Seattle with a stranger I met on the internet, spent lots of nights on a different sailboat, finished reading Cryptonomicon with Jacob (he read all 1300 pages aloud to me!), and overall kept way, way too busy.

ride never asked for


Bipolar disorder runs my life, rules it. It impacts every aspect of my life.

It dictates what I do and what I can't do and what I should do and what I should pay for when I don't get it down right.

It's the roller coaster I'll never get off of --- the ride I never asked for.

It's like being thrown into a pool before you know how to swim, but you gotta learn to swim, you do, because sinking is the one end that I started dwelling on like I never had pre-being-symptomatic.

"On a scale from one to ten, how would you say bipolar has affected your life?" my doctor asked the other week. In response, I broke down crying. I'm crying now remembering that moents.

It's up and downs and I don't understand. Or I can, but there are so many variables like meds, natural hormones, sleep patterns (late night? jet lag? have fun...), diet, stress, weather, huge life events, small life events... basically everything 'cept what shoes I choose to wear.

So I choose stability for my life, I do my best, and march on.
This sucks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Grateful for a Spring Dense With Community

Spontaneous dinner with Jesse, Jim, Ron, Jacob, and Ted. Meatloaf with roasted potatoes and sald never tasted so good!
One of the top things I am most grateful for, these days, are the communities that surround me in my daily life in Washington state. I am grateful that gatherings of loving people are not a rare occurrence. I am also grateful that the frequency doesn't dilute the love and joy that I receive from them. I love the balance I find - the giving and taking, sharing and listening, resting and reacting. I'm not entirely sure what I want for my future in terms of a career, but I do know that I always want to be surrounded by community and to be a part of building that community up.

After a book signing, popcorn, chicken, mozzarella whips, and kombucha on the dock in Lake Forest Park.
And sometimes, the house plays basketball.
Cheesemaking weekend in Bellingham with Mirai, Hannah, Sonya, Brian, River, Sky, and Steven.
Celebrating May birthdays.
Wood kiln firing on Lopez Island.
The kiddos at work.
Always into group hugs.
Climbing with Matilda and Cleo at their new home!

Monday, May 16, 2016

To Lopez Island via Sailboat


On Friday, I had the beautiful opportunity to "sail" to Lopez Island with D.M. I put sail in quotes because we never really sailed -- but we did motor all the way up there at a solid 4-5 knots.

My first exchange with D.M. went something like this:

Me: Hey, we can play cribbage. Maybe in the San Juans, Eastern Washington, a park or something?
D.M.: "Well hard to argue with those fine suggestions. I'd counter with a sail to San Juans and Cribbage."
Me: Cool.

So, around a week later, we went!


D.M. lives year-round on his sailboat and has for around five years and is a friendly ambassador for the sailing community.

He calculated that the trip up would take around 10-12 hours and doubted that we could use our sails. The wind would be in our face and, if we wanted to use it by tacking (sailing school finally comes in handy!), we would've gotten there in such a slow time that it wouldn't be worth making the trip.

We set off at six from Seattle, cruising past landmarks like Golden Gardens, Edmonds, and Kingston (crepes!). It was a bit choppy to start 1-2 foot waves, but nothing too out there. He was definitely right about one thing and that was that it was going to be cold on the water. I felt foolish packing so many layers but every single blessed one came to use.

Besides an hour when he took a nap, I was pretty useless. That was ok with me as long as I knew he was content with the circumstances. I knew he'd ask for help if he needed it. It was fun when I did get to be at the helm because I felt like a magical bad-ass. Truly. Even though I wasn't doing much, it was a magnificent blast to be absolutely surrounded by water in the Puget Sound.

There was Point No Point Lighthouse to the west, backed by the Olympics. Whidbey Island, the town of Maxwellton, was coming up on the right. Every song I played seemed to serendipitously mention sailing.

I was glad D.M. got up when he did because it was just as we were reaching where the Puget Sound funnels into a narrower flow that feeds into the ocean and the tide was going out. This is where we got to try and out chase waves. There was one time where we went sideways and my reality totally tilted and I liked that a lot. I could because between full faith in the boat and D.M., I was safe.

Eventually, 10 PM came and I was exhausted and D.M. encouraged me to head down to bed. This had already been arranged when we set up the weekend. I told him I couldn't, by any means, stay up a full night (we were sailing overnight, 6 PM to 6 AM) sailing. With bipolar disorder, a lack of sleep isn't an option at all. I was surprised at how well I slept.

Waking up was an odd sensation. For one, I was on a sailboat. For seconds, I would then remember that for every minute I had slept, D.M. was up on deck manning the helm and bringing us closer to Lopez Island. At one point I woke up and peaked my head up, for I thought I had heard him knocking for me. Half awake, staring up at a lanky 6' 2: tall man in a thick peacoat with the dark sky and stars behind him, it was hard to place reality for a second.

I went back down and next time I woke up, it was around 5:10 AM and I got up. 7 hours of sleep would do with a nap later.

He said something about Lopez Island and port and pointed east to the land. I got confused. Turned out we were already there. Welcome to Lopez Island. He navigated us into Fisherman Bay, tucked into the closest slip, and we were home for the weekend.

After he did the thing he does, we napped soundly. After an hour, he slept on (as he should) and I dashed off to see who I could find.

I Will Have Beautiful Feet

I can't say I've been too original with clothes, lately. I find a piece that's solid and comfortable and wear it out. Then I go onto eBay and find the same piece and get it again. Lately, this has been the case for J. Crew corduroy shorts and Van shoes. I got a pair of each last year and have been showing them no mercy.

I'm brutal to my clothes. My lifestyle is active and I see clothes as a tool to be used, not protected.

Shoes are something I can wear into the ground, but prefer not to. With my weak ankles, I need something solid to support me and my ankles start to role as the soles wear thin, at times. I've been  searching for months for my shoes in the identical print. Eventually, I gave up and came up with these new ones. It's fun buying the same shoe all over again to see how they wear and age.




I think they're quite beautiful!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day Twenty Sixteen

I've been living in various communities, besides my family, since 2011. I thrive living in a home with people of various backgrounds and passions and it's a great way to feel grounded in a big city like the one I live in (population 21,100).

Today, everyone got together to celebrate the birthdays of Mary Beth, Clair, and Caitlin. It was a perfect spring day to get outside and enjoy time together. One of the things that I love the most is the laughter that happens. We laugh so much together.


After lunch, presents, and affirmations, a few of us geared up for the first swim of the year in the creek! This creek is also where I first met my connection to the household, Jesse, back in 2006.

In a pack, we amble down the street, stopping to say "Hey!" to neighbor Justin and XL, his dog.

Down the water, we all stepped in with different reactions. Some of us found it not too cold and others found it to be next to freezing. And then, three of us splashed in. C and I did just a quick swim across, that was enough. E, on the other hand, could spend hours and hours on end in there if we let him.


 
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