Things I Didn’t Know

Note To My White Self

Nine years ago, I began to slowly awaken to my racial prejudices and white privilege.  It was a rude awakening.  During the past three years, I’ve blogged about that journey from racial ignorance.  Recently, someone asked me what have been the biggest surprises along the way.  What do I know now that I didn’t know before?  What follows is a short list of some of my bigger epiphanies and the posts where I shared these revelations.

I didn’t know that for a short period after the Civil War black people made significant progress in political and economic terms.  I didn’t know we had black US Senators and Representatives, that many southern states had black legislatures, that black literacy rates skyrocketed and blacks make significant economic gains.  I didn’t know about the reign of terror necessary for whites to end this moment of possibility, murdering thousands of black men, women and…

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Gone so long


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It’s hard to believe how long it’s been since I last posted.  I’ve been inpatient for a week, outpatient for 5 or 6 weeks, on vacation for a week and down with a wretched case of bronchitis for the last three weeks.  I could have written while I was outpatient or while I was sick, but for some reason I couldn’t do it.  I had no ideas and no words would come trying to free write.  And it wasn’t for lack of stories.  I have plenty to talk about.

I think it was Fear.

A couple weeks into the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) I realized two things.

First, I wasn’t bouncing back from this breakdown the way I used to.  I’ve had a Major Depressive Episode, or as I prefer to call them, Nervous Breakdown, three times already, this was my fourth.  I like the term nervous breakdown because, for me, it’s a much more accurate description of how I feel then Major Depressive Episode.  I usually don’t feel depressed when the episode rams into gear.  I feel lost and scared and jumpy as all hell.

I know that the point of going inpatient isn’t really to make us well.  It’s to make us stable.  Stable enough to go home and hang on until our next therapy and psychiatrist appointment.  You don’t get to leave the hospital until you have those appointments set.

Unless, you are going to IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) or a PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program).  I was sent to a facility that provided both.  Five weeks of PHP and one week of IOP had me ready to graduate.  Which, as nervous as I was about that, I was glad to be going home full time.

My meds were changed by about 90%.  Lots of new stuff to take, lots of new side effects to try to shake off.  I’m back on Seroquel, which was not my choice, and the weight gain begins again.  I explained to the psychiatrist in the hospital that Seroquel has a major effect on my weight, but he told me that I couldn’t possibly be right because the packaging indicates a weight gain around 9 pounds  He didn’t believe me when I told him that the last time I gained nearly 60 pounds.  So Seroquel it is for now.  They took me off Trintellix, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE IT.  Two days in, they told me to have hubby bring it from home.  He made a special trip and then they took me off it anyway.

PHP and IOP were a lot better.  Comfortable building, nice group therapy rooms, an on-staff psychiatrist, who was literally the best psychiatrist I have ever seen in my life.  Sadly, he doesn’t work in private practice and the only two psychiatrists he could recommend don’t take insurance.

Group therapy can be a dicey proposition.  It really comes down to the make up of the group and the facilitator.  For instance, I used to be really freaked out about cutting.  And during that tine, I was in a group with a cutter.  And it was very unsettling for me, so I didn’t get as much from the group as I might have otherwise.  Thankfully, my understanding of cutting is much better now, so when a woman who cut came to the PHP, it didn’t bother me.  I was extremely lucky to end up with a great group with wonderful people and excellent facilitators.  When I left, I was nervous, but I felt that I was re-armed by the coping skills I would need.

But, I digress.  Not only did I realize that I wasn’t bouncing back the same as I had previously, but I also realized that my life was never ever going to be the same again.  I felt my weakness.

See, I had always assumed, and worked towards this as much as possible, that my life would return to normal again.  I would feel good.  I would be able to work.  I would no longer end up in the psych ward or PHP or IOP.  Meds could be a thing of the past,

All I had to do was work hard enough.

But, it’s a lie.  And this is what terrifies me.

Day to day is a crapshoot as to how much I can get done.  There is an exhaustion that goes with where I am right now in my recovery, that I just can’t seem to escape.  I’m in bed by 8.  I generally don’t wake up till 7:30 or 8:00 am.  That’s a lot of sleep.  Sometimes I wake rested and sometimes I don’t.  I work my hardest to get things done by 2:00 because I usually start to crash around then.  Sometimes, I get a decent amount of stuff done, sometimes not.  But, when I don’t get much accomplished, I’m crippled with guilt about not getting more done.

And not having a job?  Oh my, that’s a bad one.  I’ve worked since I was a child, cleaning shelves in my Dad’s store.  I have worked ever since then.  I tied my identity to my Title Insurance work and have not been able to untie it yet.  The guilt of not working is intense and I think about it every day.  I talk about it in therapy more then I would like to have to.

Not bouncing back the way I used to and the feeling that I’m less then other people because I can’t work terrify me.  Is this a precursor of things to come?  Are things going to get worse?  If I end up inpatient again will it take even longer to bounce back?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  No one does.  And I know many of you are struggling with one or both of these issues.  I know I’m not alone.  And that gives me some comfort.


If you read my last post,  you may have guessed that an inpatient stay was looming.  In fact, it ended up happening that very day.

I read my last post to my therapist.  It seemed the most efficient way of telling her how I felt.  But, the hysterics that went with it were unexpected from my end.  Bipolar sticking around for the rest of my life had me completely beside myself.  I ended up going to the hospital directly from therapy.  Hubby left work early and met me there, bless him.

Inpatient hospital stays are pretty standard wherever you go.  Group therapy, new meds, coloring and putting together puzzles are the usual activities, and this time was no different.

The big thing that I have realized that people don’t know, is that the hospital stay is not to make you well.  It is to make you stable.  It’s the outpatient programs that are designed to make you well enough to start up your own life again.  I’m part of a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) that meets every day from 9-2.  It’s Monday through Friday group therapy, learning coping skills and getting my meds tweaked.  Today, I’m taking the day off so I can go to my regular therapist.  I like group therapy, it certainly has it’s pros, but I like one on one therapy better.  That whole hour is devoted to me and my issues, and I really need that.

Not a long post for today.  My brain still feels like it’s moving through sludge.  Hopefully, today will help with just Karen.  Tomorrow I will go back to PHP and learn what I can.

Can Bipolar be over now?

I’ve had it.  I’m tired of it.  I don’t want to deal with it anymore.

I want to wake up in the morning feeling rested and motivated, instead of tired and anxious.

I want to look forward to upcoming events on my calendar, instead of dreading the possibility that I won’t feel like participating.

I want to remember what my husband told me this morning while we talked.

I want to take fewer pills each day.

I want to plan fun things to do instead of being too tired to bother.

I want to talk with my family and not see the wheels turning in their heads about what they feel I’m capable of handling.

I want to work at a job that is useful to people, the way I used to.

I want to be done with endless doctor appointments.

I want to go out in the world, instead of hiding in my home to avoid all those people out there.

I’m tired of feeling tired.

I’m sick of feeling sick.

I’m tired of depression.

I’m tired of the constant struggle to give a shit.

I’m tired of worrying that all this worrying is going to put me back on the mental ward.

I’m tired of the constant anxiety.  The constant feeling that I’m standing on the edge of a cliff just praying the dirt doesn’t give out beneath my feet.

I try to pretend.  I try to put on a good show of feeling fine.  But, it’s hard work, all this pretending.  It’s exhausting.  It’s probably part of the reason I’m always so tired.  But, I can’t make myself stop pretending.  I feel a responsibility to not let my family suffer through my bipolar anymore then I have to.  But, I’m tired of watching myself fail in that attempt.  I see hubby hang his head or roll his eyes when things are going rough with me.  He doesn’t mean anything by it, but it’s extremely distressing for me.

Right now, I hate my life.  It was never supposed to be like this.  I had plans for my life, plans for my career.  And all those plans have gone to the trash bin now.  But, I miss those plans, those goals and I can’t get past the memory of them enough to make new ones.

I want to be one of those bipolars for whom the meds work great.  I want to get stablilized like they have and go back to work and feel fulfilled in my life.  I want to look forward to upcoming events with gusto not dread them in fear.

I want bipolar to be over now.


Down Day

So, it would figure that 2 days after I tell my pdoc I feel ok and I think the meds are working, I would take an emotional dive.

Yesterday was awful.  But, it made me think about the different ways that depression manifests.

For instance, yesterday hubby was the only person whose voice I could stand.  Listening to anyone else, in person or on the phone, was sheer torture that made me skin crawl.  I had a million things to do but the only thing I could actually handle was laying in bed or sitting in the sun.  I opted for sitting in the sun as it looks better to those around me than laying in bed.  Sadness, lack of energy and irritation were all present and accounted for.  I did get a shower in the morning, as I hoped it would make me feel better, but it didn’t, and it took a lot of energy away from me.

But, there are a lot more ways that depression can manifest.  Feelings of emptiness, total lack of energy, irritation, rage, despondency, crying and much much more.

I’m glad that I didn’t go any lower than I did.  I’m feeling a little better this morning and I have therapy today, which is usually pretty helpful.

The thing is though, I really thought the meds were going to keep this away from now on.  They’ve been working pretty well for awhile and that’s very scary to me.  Being treatment-resistant means that at some point, these meds are probably going to stop working.  I’m hoping against hope that I’m not getting a preview of this current batch of medications failing.

Whatever, the case, I have no option to just sit tight and wait to see what happens.  I guess that’s the boat that we’re all in.


On Sunday, my cousin died.

He had a hard life and in a way I’m thinking that at least he’s not suffering anymore.  But, the shock is starting to wear off and now I’m thinking that I just really miss him.

He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 2 years old.  I’m not sure that it was ever totally in control.  But, he was a “bright side of life” kind of guy for the most part.

My grandmother had a last wish when she passed, and it was that the family stay connected.  But, my Aunt (Joey’s mother) did some things not 24 hours after Mommom passed that made honoring that wish impossible.  But all 6 of us cousins did our best.  Unfortunately our best wasn’t really good enough, but I did keep in contact with Joey, mostly through his efforts.

He did have a kidney transplant years ago, but the medications they gave him for anti-rejection pushed his brain right into bipolar.  Mania highs, major depressive lows.  So, he stopped the meds and subsequently rejected the kidney.  From then on, he suffered dialysis.

But, he recently got news that the doctors weren’t using the same anti-rejection medications, which meant that he could get back on the transplant list.

But, a second transplant wasn’t to be.  A couple weeks ago he suffered a major heart attack, a major stroke and a bunch of mini strokes.  He ended up in the hospital, on a ventilator and constant dialysis.  Valve replacement surgery (what our grandmother died from) was recommended, but Joey was never stable enough to have it done.

I’m told it was peaceful.  I’m told that his last words were ‘I feel better’.  Was his body rallying before death, as so often happens, or was he seeing heaven?  We’ll never know for sure, but I like to believe he was seeing heaven just a little bit.

There’s to be no funeral, which I couldn’t go to anyway because of my Aunt.  It would be rude of me to impose on the funeral of her son because we don’t like each other.  And, after all, he’s her son.

I’ll miss you Joey.  It’s much to early to have to say goodbye to you.

Medications and feeling “better”


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The “In Case of Emergency” information on my phone is HUGE!  I list my emergency contact and my blood type and my allergies, but I also list all of my medications.  It’s  a lengthy and daunting list and 95% of it is for bipolar disorder.

Lithium 300mg 3x/day – for Bipolar Disorder

Deplin 15 mg 1/day – Activated Folic Acid for depression

Gabapentin 600 3/day – Originally prescribed for Restless Leg Syndrome but pdoc upped the dose because “off-label” it’s good for stopping mania.

Trazadone 150mg at bedtime – For Sleep.  Getting proper sleep with bipolar disorder is almost more important than anything else.

Klonopin 1 mg 3/day – Anti-Anxiety med

Trintellix 5mg 1/day – Antidepressant.  We actually tried to up the dose on this awhile back and I started having bouts of hypomania.

Dicyclomine – Anti-diahreaheal.  Nice little side effect of so much anxiety

I also take Amitriptyline for pain, a cholesterol medication, an allergy medication and a vitamin.

All this, and I still don’t feel great.   I feel better than I did which is wonderful, and I’m grateful.  But, I always thought that when I got the right cocktail of meds I would feel normal.

And I don’t.

My moods aren’t swinging around as much anymore, but I’m stuck in this “kind of down” place.  It’s not full depression, but it’s probably a little depression.

On top of all this I go to therapy twice a week.  I love my therapist, she’s very good at what she does.

I don’t want to succumb to this mood.  I don’t want this to be the way I live my life.  My husband is beside himself at the number of medications I take and I’m still not “normal”.  ‘Why all these meds?’ he asks every so often (usually when my mood takes a dip).

The only answer that I have for him is that at the very least these meds have kept the mania away for years.

That’s the best explanation I can give him.  But, he’s never seen the mania, he’s seen the depression and I just can’t seem to kick that, no matter how many meds I take.

Befuddled and Bemused

Oh writer’s block.  This isn’t going to be one of my normal posts that flows nicely and makes sense (at least to me).  This is me trying to bust writer’s block and make sense of all the things that have gone on recently.

Jr. moved out.  Hallelujah, right?  Except that I don’t think he made the right decision.  He’s thinking more with his little head then his big head.  But, regardless, he moved out.  And, yes, a lot of that is very helpful to me.  I no longer have him taking up my entire living room, doing nothing to help with the running of the house he’s living in for free.  I no longer have the stress of having him here.  But, I’m conflicted, because as I said, I really don’t think that he made the right decision.

I had surgery on my right elbow and am finally out of the cast.  I can function in the house properly now.

My aunt, by marriage, is sick.  Definitely pneumonia, but possibly cancer judging from some of the first tests.

My cousin died on Sunday.  He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 2 and his life was hell.  But, he was a cool guy and now he’s gone.  I’m still in shock.  I haven’t cried or had any emotion whatsoever yet about losing him.

Tomorrow is the pdoc appointment.  The only thing that I have to tell her is that I’m not really happy.  I’m not depressed or hypomanic, although I am anxious all the time (what else is new).  But, even for not being depressed or hypo, I’m still not happy, and there is no pill for that.

So that’s what’s happening around here.  I really want to get back to writing more often.  I miss it.  A lot.  Maybe this purge will help with the writer’s block.

Walking the razor’s edge


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It’s been so long since I’ve written anything.  And not because I’ve had nothing to say, but because I’ve had too much to say.  I’ve been unable to sort through the noise in my head and pluck out one thought and write.  So, I’m just going to sort of dump everything out and see if I can sort through it from there.

Jr. moved back in about 5 weeks ago.  Regardless of my feelings that this time will be easier, it’s been the same pain in the ass that’s it’s been every other time.  He’s lazy, irresponsible, and generally irritating.  He’s sleeping on my couch, so my living room is pretty much always occupied, leaving me to spend most of my time in the bedroom.  The bedroom is only big enough for a bed, so now I spend most of my time in bed.  This is a bad situation for my anxiety and my depression as well as my anger.

Disability is finally approved and being paid.  While this is a really great thing, I feel resigned to being a housewife forever.  I’m not good at being a housewife.  In fact, I hate most parts of it.  Keeping the laundry done, keeping the house clean, keeping enough food in the house so I can cook dinner every night.  It sucks.  Of course, Jr.’s presence makes some of these things harder.

In order to give myself something else to think about, I have started volunteering at our Community Resource Center.  This is actually something that I like doing.  It gets me out of my head and has me concentrating on doing things for the less fortunate.  However, I have a tendency to dive into this work too deeply and have to live with the anxiety of what I have committed to.

Medically, I’m a mess.  My bipolar meds are actually ok, or at least as they’re going to get for now.  But, I have pinched nerves in both elbows, both of which will require surgery to fix.  I’ve had sinus infection after sinus infection for the last month.  They’ve done a CT of my sinuses, which was clear and they’ve sent a scope up there (which was a joy) and everything was clear.  So now it’s allergy testing, which is fine, but I can’t take my claritin or my klonopin all week.  So, I’ll be extra snotty, both in my nose and my mood.  Not taking my klonopin is really bothering me.  I’m just praying that by not taking my anxiety medication I don’t end up off the deep end.  I already feel like I’m walking a fine line between sort of ok and definitely not ok.

I don’t know whether I’m coming or going half the time.  Like I said, the meds are actually working pretty well.  But, for some reason, and I suspect physical health problems and bipolar, I just can’t seem to get it together.

How long can I live without getting it together?



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I didn’t know how angry I was until I went to therapy on Thursday.  Jr. has moved back in and he’s been here for a couple weeks now.  He might be leaving to go back to his fiance but we won’t know for a couple of weeks.  So, in the meantime, he’s on vacation.  But, the anger in my heart didn’t surface as anger.

It surfaced as Day-mares.  I made up the word, but it turns out I wasn’t the first one.  It’s actually in the dictionary .  Day-mares are daydreams that go horribly wrong.

My most recent day-mare involved Jr’s mom.  In fact all of my day-mares do.  Hubby had passed away and, let’s call her Joan, rings the doorbell a couple days later.  I answer the door to find her on my front porch stating that she is here to claim her share of my husband’s belongings, including the house.  There is a moving truck sitting on the road outside my home containing her belongings.  I slam the door in her face and call the cops, explaining to them that hubby was her husband two husbands ago and she should have no claim.  In the day-mare I’m not on the deed, so the house isn’t automatically mine upon his passing.  By law it would go mostly to me and partially to his children.  The cops show up and talk to us both.  They explain the law and Joan starts to try to convince Jr. to claim his share so she can move in.

At this point, I somehow shake myself loose.  This day-mare is intensely real.  The emotions are vivid the images are live and in color.  It’s not an hallucination though.  It is indeed a daydream gone very far off the rails.  I’m shaking from the anger and fear and stress that I was feeling in the day-mare.  And it takes me hours to shake it.

Back to Thursday’s therapy session and Karen is looking up symptoms to see if this fits in anywhere or is an indication of something new emerging.  But she finds nothing.  So, she starts talking about my anger and stress.  And suddenly it floods out.  All the anger over Jr. staying here, basically on a vacation from life.  I’m dropping f-bombs every third word.  I’m yelling.  I want to work and can’t and he can and won’t.  He’s focused on all the wrong things in life.  There’s no reason to work hard and make a life for himself, because he can have fun and have Dad bail him out if it gets too rough.  A flood of anger and anxiety pour from me as she just sits and lets it happen.  Because it has to happen.  If the day-mares are going to stop, then this outpouring of rage is crucial.

I think that’s the most important part of therapy for me.  I have a safe place to just spew out all the garbage and someone there to either validate me or gently move me to a new understanding.  I know not everyone likes therapy, but it works great for me for that exact reason.  I have to let this stuff out to hubby in small doses.  He just can’t take the full brunt of my anger and stress.  But Karen can and does.

Let me know if you’ve experienced the phenomenon of day-mares and how you’ve coped.  I’d love to hear your experiences!