On the edge of a metaphorical cliff…what to do in life after July?

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 I have been basking in the glory of having my “next step” figured out for about 9 months.  I was fully engaged and present to my post-college volunteer year in Washington. I still am enjoying the hell out of it, but now I’m nearing the end. The panic has been creeping in for about a month now. I have two more months until I am at the edge of the metaphorical cliff.

I have been ANXIOUSLY awaiting for a call back from my dream job for next year. By anxious I mean: “I’m going to have a heart attack if they don’t call  me by the end of today” three days in a row. To be fair, they said they would call “early” this week. It is Wednesday, which to  me is “mid” week, and looks like they are running out of time to call today, which looks like it will actually be a the “end” of the week.

Let me tell you why I want this job so badly. It involves traveling around the country for 8 months continuously and staying with the company’s contacts in all of the places (essentially couch surfing). To some people this would seem like a nightmare, but to me it seems like it could be the biggest adventure of my life so far. Also, I think this job was made for me. I am a natural people-person who loves to do presentations. The job is traveling to colleges to recruit for the company. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So you’re probably wondering how is a person who is Bipolar II going to cope with so much travel? I am going to counter that with another question; How would I survive without traveling. It is in my soul. I could not give it up for anything.

And I really have thought about the practicality of keeping a regular sleep/exercise schedule and remaining a vegetarian. I have myself convinced that it would be doable.

I DO have other half-baked plans for the cliff if this does not come through, and those too involve traveling and moving to a new city. However, getting paid to couch surf for 8 months is something I could never pass up. I am drooling thinking of the possibilities. And YES I know it will be tough, but so is everything else in life.

What the heck?!?!

One of my shortest and most insignificant posts has brought obscene amounts of traffic to my blog. Apparently people searching for “happy” or “happy image” on the web are being directed here. I’m baffled and I don’t know whether to embrace it or remove the post. I would have hoped that this increase in traffic would yield more readers/followers/comments, but an audience looking for “happy” isn’t interested in a blog about being Bipolar. So what should I do? Has this happened to anyone else?

BP Drugs Take 3: LAMICTAL

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You haven’t heard from me in a while. Mostly because I’ve been non-compliant and back in denial for a week. Went off the Seroquel on my birthday, which to be fair was actually a semi-thought out plan; I’d been tapering for about a week before that. I just couldn’t deal with the sedation and it wasn’t helping a lot.

So I saw my psychiatrist today and I told him that I wanted to try something different. He suggested either Abilify or Lamictal. I picked to try Lamictal because why not try something very different from Seroquel? Also, the Seroquel was changing my thought process…I almost felt like I was high or seeing the world through metaphoric glasses. So here goes anti-convulsants instead of atypical anti-psychotics. 🙂

I was also really attracted to Lamictal’s anti-depressant properties since that’s still my main problem.

I’m taking my first dose as soon as I get off work and get to the pharmacy. Wish me luck! I would love to know of your experiences with Lamictal (good or bad….and don’t worry I will be on the lookout for the infamous deadly rash)!

THINGS and SITUATIONS: How to Have Healthy Relationships

This has been a difficult post to write, since most of my post are spastic and spur-of-the-moment, but this topic is very important to me.

What is your relationship with exercise? With food? With alcohol? With TV? With shopping? I doubt most people have willingly reflected on these questions.

What do you mean “what is my relationship”? I mean what are your emotional associations and habits that go with this activity or thing?

For example, I will share about my relationship with exercise. Exercise has never been a constant in my life until recently. I ran cross country and played softball in high school, but just barely tolerated the vigorous running schedule and the sprinting drills. I got to college and I did not work out. Ever. Luckily I have a fast metabolism and danced (a LOT) every time I went out. The rest of college pretty much went the same way. I felt a lot of pressure to be fit, but I could never commit to a lifestyle change or even a steady schedule. This was due to my relationship with exercise.

My relationship before August: I felt a lot of guilt whenever I thought I should be more fit or exercising. I though it was something that people forced themselves to do. I thought it would be a huge adjustment to make my life more active. Every time I went I thought I was not doing enough, or that people in the gym who were regulars were judging me. Therefore I had a terrible abusive relationship with exercise.

My progression towards a healthy relationship with exercise started when I  moved to Washington in August and was surrounded by my housemates who were all active people. We would go to the gym together, and there was no pressure from them. I also did not know anyone in my gym (it is really important for me to remain anonymous in that place because it’s a vulnerable place for me), so did not feel judged. Hell, for all they knew I was already a marathon runner :P. I adopted a new attitude. Simply showing up at the gym for me was enough. The act of going to the gym was where I derived my satisfaction, not based on how much I accomplished. BUT surprisingly, whenever I would go to they gym I really would try hard and accomplish more than I expected. This is because the only expectations I had was that I would go there and do something. I did not expect to run 20 miles a week or go to the gym everyday.

My relationship now: Tada! My relationship has evolved. I have accepted that being active is something my body needs (just like your dog needs to be taken on walks…my legs need to be taken to run/bike!). I hold myself to low standards, and my only expectation is that my life continues to be an active one. I love going to the gym….it’s a place where my mind has no place and my body takes over (which is a very welcome relief). I feel like I belong there.

Now that I have moved the relationship to a positive one; Where do I think my relationship can take me next? I think that the longer my life is an active one, the more I can elevate my standards. I can start to train for a half-marathon and be confident I will not let myself down. Even if I miss a day of training, I will be kind to myself, and be more ready to get back at it the next day.

Goodbye Crutches! Hello new stable self!

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Dealing with undiagnosed Bipolar II for several years has left me with a “toolbox” full of things or behaviors that keep me keeping on, but take a toll on my mental health. I have shaped my actions and habits around my jagged-edged life and used many unhealthy things as crutches to hide or “help” myself. The following is a list of my “crutches.” Since I started taking an atypical anti-psychotic last night, these are also things I am giving up long term.

1. Alcohol: I love greyhounds, I love tequila shots, and there is nothing like a Stella in one of those fancy glasses straight from the tap. But to be truthful with myself, I have to admit that I love these things for much more than the taste.

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Drinking has helped me many times to act “normal” when I feel anything but normal. When I was can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed as a freshman in college, my only other activity was partying. It was definitely a contributing factor for my depressed state, but in the moment, it always made me feel like a normal college freshman. It created a sense of solidarity between my dorm-mates and myself when, in reality, I was have an atypical year filled with failure and depression. It also made me happy, or at least numb.

I still use alcohol in this way. Whenever I’m a little too hyped up after work (hypomania) and can’t stop doing things (if I do I’ll be boring or lame), I am in the habit oftrying to calm myself down with a beer or screwdriver. This typically stops me from becoming hyperactive in activity, but just makes me obnoxious, loud, and overly talkative.

Using alcohol during Mania is another thing entirely. But when I get the urge to drink heavily (it’s almost like a need), it is almost always a sign of mania. The other night when I was feeling particularly rebellious and hell-bent of getting fucked up I ended up walking around downtown by myself, dodging my roommates phone calls (we had gone out together and I had flat out disappeared), and went to the sketchiest bar in town by myself. This might not seem too serious of an issue to you, BUT I live in a very bad part of town.

2. Coffee: I F*CKING LOVE SOY AMERICANOS! Giving up this one is going to be tough. But then again….I really have to admit to myself that it’s not just the taste. It’s the “happy” and warmness that comes 4 sips in.

My friend Frank actually made this photo when I was at my worst in caffeine addiction.

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It got to the point in college that I could drink a Venti Starbucks coffee and fall asleep. Oh, and then I moved on to the anhydrous caffeine pills. I am very thankful that I did not have any heart problems during this period.

3. Late-Night Adventures: The Seroquel is definitely going to make this and easy one to follow due to the extreme drowsiness.

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In college my friends and I would frequent the 24 hour doughnut shop and make spur-of-the-moment 3am trips to the beach to bonfire. I would also use staying up late to trigger adrenaline to do last-minute papers and projects. Now that I’m in the “real-world” my sleep schedule is 90% more stable than it was in college. Still, now and again I’ll stay up until 3am reading a novel when I have to go to work the next morning.

Intro

I have started to blog a few times with the best intentions. This usually comes after some great revelation like: “I want to become a chef!” or “I bet no one’s ever heard of a female pick up artist!” Of course, all of these attempts have failed miserably because they are based on fleeting interests and there is always a new, more important pressing issue to take its place. Hopefully this blog will not end the same way…although I’m not sure how confident I am in it succeeding. My main motivation is to reach out to the Bipolar community. I have absolutely no connections with anyone who has any useful insight on this issue besides my counselor and the many books I’m reading on the topic. Hopefully someone will read it and offer insight/personal stories to make me feel less like an alien 🙂