Tackling Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety, Jessica’s Story

Posted with author permission. Original piece can be found on the author’s website.


 

Bipolar & Anxiety

 I am finally ready to explain my anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Here goes.

Anxiety:

My anxiety issues stems from my childhood and increased stress in my life. I am a survivor of physical, sexual and mental abuse. My step-father hurt me in more ways than any child should see let alone deal with. Physical abuse was not as brutal as the others. Yes, the mental abuse is more damaging, my opinion, than any of the others. I was never good enough, told I was a slut (at age 12 & up), I was a bitch that no one would ever want. The feeling of the unknown triggers an anxiety attack now. Not to mention being in large crowds. Crowds remind me of the tiny house we lived in when I was young and I can’t breathe. I shake and get clammy. Going to the store just to get milk is hard for me. Medication has helped with this and being able to know when stores are not too busy helps as well. Going to Wal-Mart at 11pm is great, I only freak out when checking out. Another trigger for me is the day before I pay bills, can I pay all of them or not and running out of soda or smokes.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Every person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is different. Many have to control everything and MUST maintain total cleanliness. I know a few that are always cleaning with bleach and some who just are repetitive habits like doing things in 3’s. I however, am strange. My towels must be folded just right, my dishes HAVE to be done in a certain order or I can’t finish them, pictures MUST be level and my frig is organized in a certain way. When my kids were little their toys were in the right place every night. They call it ‘mommy clean’. Twice a year we still ‘mommy clean’. That means washing everything from light switches to the walls & carpet.One therapist would turn the clock on his wall just a little before I came in and I always HAD to fix it before sitting down. If there are dead leaves on a plant I have to fix that. My OCD is manageable without medication at this time.

Bipolar Disorder:

There are two types of bipolar disorder. I fit into type 1 more than type 2 though I could be classified as both from year to year. I rapid cycle, or switch moods often, more than 99% of bipolars. Most bipolars have days to months in a depressive mood and mania (usually hyper). I can switch from mania to depression and back in matter of an hour, sometimes less. I do what they call extreme rapid cycling. It’s like a switch and for 10 years I knew my triggers. The past 3 years I’ve had trouble since new triggers appeared. Triggers are people, situations or emotional times that can start a depression or mania. When I’m in a manic episode I sometimes have rage issues or episodes.
Rage episodes for me are a burst of furry and I can lash out at anyone or anything. I have punched walls, thrown things, kicked holes in the walls, screamed, yelled and swipe everything off a table or desk. The most epic rage episode was a few years before I was medicated; I punched through a 55 gallon fish tank and killed all the fish. Not a good time in my life. For over 10 years I was on a mood stabilizer and a sleep aide. The last 3 years I have had to add several more since I have new triggers and my rage got out of control last year, no I didn’t hurt anyone.
My depression episodes are the most troubling for me. I know every November I will need an increase in medication. This is due to my mom’s birthday and the month she died. I usually continue the increase through December to play it safe. Other times of the year I get into a rut where I just don’t do a thing except re-read books or re-watch Netflix. When it gets really bad I have neighbors come over and make me shower and eat. Some even clean my kitchen and that tends to help push me back to a better mood, not always.
Another issue I have with my bipolar is frequent and severe migraines. Until a few years ago I had no idea that bipolar people tend to get migraines.

Mania:

My mania episodes are different from most. I become excessively OCD, which isn’t a bad thing. Some people excessively shop, have one night stands, drink, do drugs and things like that. I used to drink excessively right after my mom died. Though unlike others I know I made sure my kids were taken care of and I kept my college grades at all A’s. Another person I know in a manic state can never focus on a single thing long enough to get half way through it. I have that problem maybe once a year and that’s when we go into Daylight Savings Time.  I think I have learned to focus on things that are healthy or at least not self-destructive like reading a book series of 28 books in a week or write for days at a time.

Managing My Mental Health

I see my therapist, Joyce, monthly. Basically I just tell her what has happened since the last visit or we talk about food. We both love to cook from scratch. No, not typical but it helps me at least. My therapist tried to get me to do all sorts of things, but we found what works for me. It also helps that I can call her anytime to talk if needed which I have a few times this last year. Now remember you may have to go through many therapists before you find one you like and that can help. I went through 9.
Once a month I see the PA, Jayme, that prescribes my medication. She specialized in mental health. I love her. She is only my second to medicate me for my issues, as I call them. Since I’ve been medicated for 16 years I know what works and what doesn’t. Jayme lets me adjust my medications as I see fit, within reason. I also call her every time I make a change and tell her if she doesn’t want me to let me know. Never change your medication with asking first. I know what limits I can take of everything I’m on and what Jayme will allow me to change. Like I said I always call, even if I decide not to take one of my sleeping pills just one night. It is important to communicate with the doctor that prescribes your medication.
Keep track of all the medication I’m on for my mental health issues and other medical issues is hard. I tried the pill box, calendar check off and several apps on my phone. I finally found the perfect one, Medisafe app. It’s available for Android and Apple. With this app I can set my alerts for each medication, how often, how much and can even have a setting for as needed. There are several different alert tones; Star Wars, Minions (my favorite), Baseball, Finding Nemo, South Park, Elsa and a few more. You can set it to vibrate and flash lights as well. There’s a diary that you can track things in. My favorite part is the measurements, here I can track moods, pain, blood pressure, weight, temperature, pulse, pain level, blood glucose, A1C and many others. Keep track of your appointments and which doctor prescribes which medication. I also love the fact I can email all this information to myself and print it out for my doctors. I’ve been using Medisafe for a few years and I can look back and see how much I have improved with taking my medication and track my weight. Before I started using Medisafe, there were days I thought I took my pills and didn’t. Then a few times I double dosed. I haven’t done either since I started using Medisafe since I can just open the app and see which pills I took (green check mark) or missed (blue circle thing or red exclamation point). I customized the shape and color of my pills: purple, lavender and white for mental health, blue for pain pills and pink for birth control. I love being able to do that. Another extra is that my friend can get alerts if I miss a dosage. The reminders for refills is also helpful. I have mine set to go off when I have 5 pills left of those I take once a day and 10 for ones I take twice a day. The last benefit I like is the medication information.
Writing is another way I manage everything. I started writing in 2010 and have written over 15 novels, none published. See that’s where my OCD and anxiety comes in. Writing gives me the opportunity to express what isn’t proper in the real world. I mainly write about shifters, vampires (non-sparkling) and witches. Yes, sex is in there a lot too. With writing I have made lots of friends on Twitter and through NaNoWriMo.
Reading also helps me. It distracts me from whatever is troubling me or pushing my moods around. Depending on my mood issue I read erotica, paranormal-romance, and fiction with a little sex. Check out my list of favorite book series to the right.
Twitter has helped me to meet others with mental disorders as well. Support helps as well as knowing you’re not alone. I have a great group of friends that help each other when we are having a bad day.