Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Longest, Hardest Year (Warning: Graphic/Contains Triggers)

This mommy's mind...

...was confused. My then "therapist" decided to call whatever was wrong with me a "general mood disorder." My general practitioner (GP) actually used the word "bipolar." Neither one actually tried to explain what either term meant for me. My therapist kept pushing the neurofeedback, while my GP decided to start me on mood stabilizers. She prescribed Topomax for my moods and trazodone for sleep, telling me I could take "however much I needed" to help me fall asleep. Mistakes number five and six: not asking for more information about my illness and not informing myself about any of it, especially the meds. I figured they knew what they were doing, so I blindly followed their directions.

Danger Ahead

   At first the meds seemed to be helping; I definitely was getting sleep again and I wasn't flying as high as I had been on the Zoloft. But the neurofeedback did nothing but make me feel giddy for a few hours before it would wear off, and I really didn't care for my therapist, so after a month or two I stopped going. Mistake number seven: be sure to have an alternative provider in place before leaving any health care professional.
   As I continued to take the Topomax, I began to notice several things.
  • I was losing a ton of weight. I just didn't feel like eating. 
  • I was losing a ton of hair.
  • Poor short term memory 
  • Loss of word recall
All of this would have been fine, if the medicine was actually making my mood more stable. Unfortunately it had the exact opposite effect.

Downward Spiral

   Thankfully by this time I had started doing my own research. So I was able to recognize the difference between mania and depression and started to notice my mood changes sooner. I soon realized they were changing way too often. And thus I learned about rapid cycling. Ultra rapid cycling. I'd be depressed in the morning, then manic by dinner, sometimes with multiple swings in between. The Bearded One was tiptoeing on eggshells; he never knew where I was coming from or how to respond to anything I was doing or saying. I became increasingly erratic, starting multiple projects, then abandoning them because I was exhausted from the depression. I was laughing hysterically one minute, then in a tearful rage the next. This continued for months and no one was excused from my one woman display of craziness. Not TBO, not poor little Punkin' Butt, not even friends. I was in hell and had no idea how to stop the pain.
Too Little, Too Late

    I eventually figured out that the Topomax was not only NOT working, but that it was very likely making me worse. On a Monday morning I went to see my GP about switching medications. She agreed and we worked out a schedule to come off the Topomax and start Lamictal. The schedule started Tuesday morning. I didn't make it to Tuesday morning.
   Monday evening, after PB was asleep, The Bearded One and I were sitting in the living room discussing a tax bill we owed. It wasn't the most enjoyable of conversations (what conversation about taxes is?) but neither was it a bad conversation. But something about that conversation triggered an emotional response in me that knocked my world off it's axis. Maybe it was the financial stress, maybe it was the meds, maybe I was overtired. Probably a little of all of those things. As I sat there I began to cry, then weep, then sob, the whole time feeling an uncontrollable urge to hurt myself. Scratching, cutting, biting, punching something, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I knew I needed to hurt myself to make the pain go away.
Over the Edge

   The longer I fought the urge, the more the urge turned from harm to suicide and I knew I was lost. I sat hugging my arms to my side to prevent any harm to myself, sobbing. I called my GP who told me to get to to the ER as soon as possible. TBO bundled Punkin' Butt and I into the car, we dropped her off with a dear friend and off to the ER we went. I had to sit on my hands the whole way there to stop myself from punching the dash, or worse, jumping out into interstate traffic. TBO was reassuring me that everything would be ok, but I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was terrified of this stranger next to him.
   We got to the ER safely and they took me back immediately. Mentioning that you're suicidal gets you seen pretty quickly. It wasn't long before they decided what to do with me: involuntary commitment.

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