0

Lithium

So, there it is. The word I’ve always dreaded.

My psychiatrist went ahead and prescribed it a little more than a week ago. I guess it seems like the Lamictal is not really stabilizing my moods anymore. I am ashamed of how I have become this aggressive beast whom I don’t recognize. I hate the way I lash out. I can’t stand how angry I stay. And then I want to cry…I think. Yet no tears come. I feel numb. And I want to do something (ANYthing) to make myself feel like I have a pulse. I feel like a walking dead person.

And then there are the feelings that are the non-negotiables as far as any psychiatrist worth his salt is concerned. The feelings that “one would be better off dead.” Ugh. Do I have a plan to harm myself or kill myself, well heck no!! It’s just that feeling of wishing I didn’t have to wake up for quite a number of days. Doesn’t anyone understand that??

I function. I go to work daily. I take care of my physical appearance. I still have a decent filter that keeps me from saying all the horrible stuff that comes to my mind. But I admit that I seem to hate people more. Not REAL hate, you know. Just the feeling of being fed up with most human beings. I mostly don’t want to be bothered. I mostly want to go home after work and wrap myself up in a blanket like a fajita or a big, fat burrito and read a book or watch some Netflix. I wouldn’t mind talking on the phone…but my husband does not approve of my best friend, so that’s out. And I no longer need a phone to talk to my sister since, thankfully, our families now live together.

The good news is that I no longer succumb to the insane shopping sprees that I used to years ago when I was first diagnosed. Whew! Or, at least I mostly don’t. Or, even if I splurge, I don’t spend what I can’t somehow recover. Or, like even if I spend 2 or 3 hundred dollars, it’s not like I spend money that is needed for a bill or something.

The other good news is that I don’t have those voices compelling me to do ridiculous stuff. Or at least even if I DO think crazy stuff, I KNOW it’s crazy and I don’t follow through on it. That should count for something. I guess I’m saying that I don’t have any extra diagnoses like paranoid schizophrenia. So, that’s good.

So why am I writing about this? Because even though this lithium stuff is going to help me with the depression and with the panic attacks and all…it’s not helping yet. I know it’s only been a little more than a week and I am still in the building up phase. I haven’t even been prescribed a full dosage, which I’m glad about since even with such a small amount in my system, I’m going around like a walking zombie. It’s crazy how you can still (almost) function normally, just at a very sloooooowwwww pace. I just feel sleepy and agitated that I can’t spend the day sleeping.

So, no it’s not really helping some of the impulsiveness. I know that I just finished saying that I don’t follow through on the crazy stuff. Yet twice on last week I did something unthinkable and I remember the moment in each situation where the “snap” occurred. It was like I knew both times that I had unexpectedly found myself in an enviable (yet integrity-compromising) situation. I was going to do the right thing, I think. Or at least I was telling myself that I w
ould. I want to think that I would have followed through on the right path, if it hadn’t been for that break. That MOMENT, you know. Sometimes you don’t even recognize the split second that it happens. BUT I DID. I specifically remember making a conscious decision to do what I should not.

And I did. I did what should have remained in the land of ugly possibility. And now it cannot be undone. And I don’t feel very confident that I will do better the next time. Not very confident at all.

In what ways will Lithium help me with things like this?

 

 

8

I’m Out

Well, if you followed my blog because I was about to have Weight Loss Surgery…I’m sorry for both of us.

I’m opting out of the surgery, and I’m still pressing toward being my most authentic self. I hope you will remember that my original purpose for beginning this blog was to discover and express that true Self.

I am sooooooo happy for all my friends here who have had and those who will have the surgery. I wish you the best of luck and the best of health. I honestly mean that. I pray we will all get there; where we want to be.

As for me, I had to confront the truth: that I had made a fear-based, emotionally-charged decision: something I know from experience is a horrible thing to do and rarely has good outcomes. On the contrary, the decisions I have made that way have usually come with a horrifying price tag and many, many regrets. At the age I am now, I honestly cannot afford to make many more decisions like that.

Somewhere deep inside I have believed and do believe that I will receive Divine help. And yet it seems that looking back, I have consistently drawn back in doubt and then fallen into the trap of trying to do what has been successful for other people. I have never been true (over the long term) to the Guidance that I know for a fact that I have received. Instead, I have made many choices in desperation. Even now, I am carrying around an extra 100 pounds on my body that is largely due to one of those decisions to act in desperation when my weight-loss efforts were not paying off dividends fast enough for my satisfaction.

Be Blessed. Be Happy. Be Well.

5

A Visit With the Exercise Therapist

Current weight: 287 (I think)

Okay, so we all have to go to an exercise therapist who is part of our weight loss team. They talk to you about your weight loss goals and how to come closer to achieving them by physical activity. But first they have to check your resting heart rate with this little machine. We had to come “4 hours fasted” to the appointment, and having not done any exerting physical activity. I can tell you that it was not hard to NOT do any exercise because after a week on about 1400 calories, I still didn’t really feel like exerting myself.

So there was HORRIBLE news…yet very enlightening. I had to weigh-in before the appointment officially began and then they clamped my nose and had me bite down on the little white tube-machine into which I had to breathe for about 10 minutes. The results were incredible and disheartening. According to them, a woman of my age, height and weight should be burning about 1900 calories a day just from sitting still; hence the 1400-calorie diet they had put me on last week to jump-start my weight loss and begin to teach me a new way of eating. Brace yourself: I only burn 1520 calories. I could have cried. Not because I have such slow metabolism; but because they now understood completely why after a week of so few calories, I had only lost 2 freaking pounds. I had already wanted to cry after I got on the scales, which I had expected would say something great, considering how constantly hungry I’d been throughout the week. But then, to hear this!

And here is the worst news: Since my metabolism is so jacked up, they say that I should never have been eating 1400 calories. They have now restricted me to a mere 1000. I’m certain that if I have any fat readers that you already know how I reacted to this. I went directly to Dario’s and ordered a Number 1, with the hotdogs all the way. (A  #1 consists of 2 hotdogs and a million French fries and a soft drink.) And THEN I went to Dewey’s Bakery where I ordered two white on white cake squares AND a chess tart. I admit that I could not eat all the food at once, thank God. But I still ate every crumb before the end of the day. SO THERE!

Right after that, I went and joined Planet Fitness Gym. And I week later, I have lost 4 pounds–according to the scales there. So, at least that’s good.

3

Two Ninety-WHAT?

Dang it. It had been cool to go see the physician a few weeks ago and weigh in at 290.5. Not that it’s a good number. It’s just that I thought I weighed even more. So what a bummer it was to get weighed at the first Nutrition Class the other day and be told I weigh 293.5. Not cool. I realize that we woman have a normal tendency to fluctuate in weight during the month just because of hormonal stuff and the moon and water retention. But at the same time I wondered if I hadn’t sort of let the reins loose a little once I knew I was a candidate for this surgery. You know, saying “goodbye” and “so long” and “adios” to a number of foods that I know for sure I won’t be able to eat again any time soon after the surgery. Is THAT why I gained weight without knowing it?

Not too worry though, little did I know that we would be put on a calorie-restricted(and fat-reduced and protein-enhanced) diet beginning on the very first day of the class. 1400 calories. I kindly raised my hand and told the young woman conducting the class that if I could successfully refrain from eating more than 1400 calories a day on my own, THEN I WOULD NOT HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE SURGERY!! Some smart-a$$ fat girl (yes, I know we are ALL fat) interrupted to “encourage” me not to fret at all. She says that she has been doing this for a week and lost 6 pounds and that after the first 2 days she found herself eating far more food than she ever ate in her life. She said that she is now never hungry and that this it totally do-able.

Okay, good for her. My story is different. Although I can say that the first day was a true success, the second and third day, my body completely revolted. Like, “Woman are you out of your mind?! Do you think that a body that has become accustomed to about 3000 calories a day is just going to sit back and allow you to take all it’s energy away???” So I had headaches that ranged from mild to REALLY BAD for that time period and I couldn’t do any work or go get any exercise. And my stomach was always growling, begging for food and making other weird and loud noises that I don’t ever remember hearing before. And I felt faint and irritable and listless. And that’s when I decided that they don’t know what they are talking about, trying to give us all this one size-fits-all requirement. I told myself that I was just going to eat more calories whenever I felt that I needed them and furthermore that I would eat every single time my stomach or my headache signaled that I was starving.

And that’s what I did. I have ended up eating sometimes every 2 hours or so, but it’s usually only enough to stave off the gnawing hunger. And something miraculous happened: in the end I have still abided within 100 calories of the limit! And best of all, after a week of no energy whatsoever, I was able to get up and go walking for 30 minutes. Yay! AND, I was so upset that my son had not cut the yard, that I grabbed the lawn mower and cut the front lawn for 30 minutes. Woohoo! So the smarty-pants fat girl was right. This IS do-able.

So when I successfully demonstrate by turning in my food journals that I have totally cut out all carbonated drinks, that I can live off 1400 calories a day that mostly come from protein and non-starchy vegetables and that I get about 30 minutes of exercise daily, then I will be given a date for my surgery. And then the REAL trial begins: Optifast for 3 weeks.

And then, the surgery…

5

Lamictal…again

I had a truly wonderful visit with the psychologist named Camille Leaver. She was just like what you would expect: she asked probing questions, but never seemed shocked about any answers. She was non-judgmental and she–unlike Jeff Smith–was very affirming of the choices I have made over time. She congratulated me for implementing practices that help me stay fairly level and that help me cope in the event that my mood takes a dive. That was all very refreshing.

Of course I still had to go see the psychiatrist, and he was as wonderful as Camille. Even so, he suggested that I begin (or rather, RESUME after 7 years) taking Lamictal which in his professional opinion is a good proactive and preventative measure for what I might experience after the weight loss surgery. There are no guarantees that I will fall into black depressions after the surgery…but there are also no guarantees that I won’t. So, okay, fine! I got my prescription filled at Wal-mart and started taking it 2 days ago. I feel–THE SAME. Which is exactly what he expects to happen. If all goes well, I’ll just keep right on feeling THE SAME every day, which is the goal.

I’ve made my peace with the whole thing and I no longer feel like a hypocrite. Whomever feels they can judge me is welcome to do so. Like Camillle said, I have  a 7-year record of being off meds and in a year after the surgery if I want to come back off of them again, there should be no reason that I can’t. They started me off on the lowest possible dosage, and hopefully we will stay right there.lamictal[1]

7

Upper GI Test Tomorrow

Oh my goodness. Just a month ago, it seemed like this whole weight loss surgery thing was going to take forever, but now things finally seem to be moving along.

At 8:30 a.m. (when I am supposed to be at work for the last week of teacher workdays) I have to be a Baptist Hospital so they can check out my upper gastrointestinal region and make sure everything is okay. That means I can’t have anything to eat or drink for the next 12 hours. The no eating will be okay…but NO WATER after midnight?? What about my nightly tendency to go to the kitchen for a drink of water? Even the THOUGHT of not being able to drink water makes me thirsty. Ugh.

I hear the test will only take about 45 minutes. Then I will go to work for a few hours. And THEN the fun starts: At 3:00 p.m. I go see “The Prescriber” at the Mood Treatment Center. Doesn’t that title sound ominous? THE PRESCRIBER. I don’t know why they refer to the psychiatrist that way. (Which reminds me that I really need to post about my recent visit to the Mood Treatment Center and the wonderful encounter with one of the psychologists there.)

And as if THAT were not enough for one week, tomorrow I go to the 2-hour Nutrition Class. Woohoo! So this whole process is really moving along, right? But if that’s the case, then can anyone please tell me WHY I get so creeped out worrying that something is going to pop up at the last minute to keep all this from happening?

1

Up and Down (Part 1)

In 2007 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. As a child, people called me “spastic,” and “hyper.” In my pre-teen and teenage years I would feel depressed from time to time. As a young adult the depression would be so deep that I felt I could hardly breathe sometimes.

But it was only when I was 36 that I was diagnosed. Did I suspect before then that I had a serious problem. YES. I have kept journals since I was in the 8th grade and I had an English teacher who required that we do so. It’s impossible to journal on a regular basis and not eventually notice a pattern in your moods. And yet, every time the cloud would lift, I had the insane idea that I would never again feel so much like killing myself. Can you believe I thought that EVERY SINGLE TIME?

Then my husband cheated on me. And left me and my four sons to live in the church that he used to pastor. And then I took him back after a year of praying to God to PLEASE send him back. [Yes, in retrospect I do realize just how insane I had to be.] And then I realized I’d made a mistake in taking him back and the depressive phases would last much longer. And then I decided to stay with him until I could finish college and enter the work force so that I could leave his ass. But then, years later while I was working on my Master’s Degree–which is enough to drive anyone batty all by itself–he left me for the second time.

What I’m trying to demonstrate is that I was never sure that it was ME who had the problem. I just thought my LIFE was extremely problematic. I sincerely thought that the trauma of my life (having been molested as a child; experiencing teenage pregnancy, the homesickness of living in Europe for 2 years, the poverty associated with marrying young, having four sons and being uneducated and jobless, having a husband who was a preacher, liar, and adulterer, the stresses associated with maintaining a 4.0 average in college and grad school as an adult and as a sometimes-single-parent) were causing me to be…well, you know, “up and down.”

If it had not been for the fact that I was nominated for the only full-ride scholarship and stipend given annually in the department where I was to do grad studies, I may never have even sought psychiatric evaluation and psychological therapy, much less been able to afford them. Indeed, if I had not forced by the dean to stop breaking down in the bathroom in uncontrollable crying and screaming fits, I guess I would have just continued the silent suffering that had become my life story. I would never have put myself into the category of people who have a “chemical imbalance.”

And the good times were no longer just good; they were AMAZING beyond belief. I began to feel high on life whenever I wasn’t in the black pit. And once my husband had left me I was free to experience all the “life” that I had given up after high school in order to marry him. And even more incredible was the fact that I was taking 5 classes at a time, and learning other languages and producing some the best academic writing I have ever done. I was a freaking GENIUS. All while I was losing my mind.

And then came the meds.