kept the flowers

Can’t figure out what’ll be left of me

My whole life I’ve been known as hyper, dramatic, loud, excitable, dynamic. who am IAnd that’s how I knew myself, too. But when I was slapped with the diagnosis of Bipolar II and slid into a cave of depression, that all slipped away. Or rather, got put into a box that I hoped to open someday.

And then the desperate search for my “real” self began…and a billion questions hit me all at once. Was hypomania causing me to act that way all those years? What would I be like without it? Who the heck am I?

If I ever find the right meds to stabilize me—when the hypomania has been stripped away—what’ll be left of me?

And I still don’t think I know the answer. To me, Lauren is the same melodramatic, happy, and confident woman she’s always been. Because that’s all I know.

But while a lot of those qualities are positive, I can see the negative. Looking back, I can see hypomania causing me to get too worked up and excited; to stay up all hours, unable to sleep; have a lead foot behind the wheel and develop road rage easily.

But after months and years of depression, I’m ready to have it back. Bring it on. I’ve had some peeks at it, and it feels good…it feels like me. The girl who cracks jokes in the meeting and is motivated to do things.

Sure, opening that box and having it back full-fledged would really just be hypomania all over again. And maybe the real Lauren is just a slightly more controlled version of that. The melodrama minus the anxiety. I can only hope I find that girl someday. A girl who isn’t constantly in a battle with hypomania or depression. A girl that can truly be just who she is.

I think I would like that girl.

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Dying inside to live

Lately I feel like I’m screaming inside. Screaming to LIVE. To be adventurous, crazy, carefree…to live.Girl jumping on beach

To not sit in an office and feel my soul slowly wither away. I feel like I’m trapped in this life where we work in dark offices all day instead of actually enjoying life. I go outside into the sun at lunch and just crave the chance to stay out there all day or work in a garden or take a trip. To do anything but sit at a keyboard until I want to stab my eyes out.

There has to be another way…doesn’t there? Is this just the curse of working in America? I’ve heard that many construction workers are highly satisfied with their careers, as they get to be physical and in the open air all day. I find myself wondering if I could make the same salary being a professional landscaper (as I lack the skills for construction). I think if I could be a firefighter, I would. Or maybe open up a restaurant in Santa Fe.

I’m not sure if the depression just brings out these restless and unsatisfied thoughts…but I feel like they’ve always been there. I can’t be the only one thinking like this—there have to be others dying to live as well.

Maybe all I can do (until we win the lottery) is amp up what I do in my free time. That’s really hard when you work and have to take care of life, but I suppose it’s the only option I have right now.

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Bipolar update: Lithium hating

Oh Lithium, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.lithium

  1. You make me drink at least a gallon of water a day.
  2. With you I can only take tylenol—the most inferior pain med.
  3. You make me gain weight and prevent me from losing it.
  4. Your breakouts are super fun.
  5. Oh, and you didn’t cure my depression.

So, without my doctor’s supervision, I started to taper off of you. Only 300mg so far (I took 1,200mg), which I started on Saturday. Then on Monday, a headache started…and it still hasn’t stopped.

Could this be Lithium withdrawal? I thought maybe. So I called up my psychiatrist and broke the news that I went against her advice and perhaps had a resulting headache.

And what did she say? Am I drinking enough water? People get dehydrated in the summer, you know.

I drink at least a GALLON of water a day. If that’s enough, I simply don’t know what to do. She said she hasn’t heard of a headache being a side effect of tapering off Lithium.

Well, I think it is…so there. I managed to find only a couple people on the interwebs who mentioned a tapering headache.

That’s the only explanation I have for now, and if it doesn’t go away I’ll ask my general practitioner. But for now, hating on Lithium a bit more will have to do.

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Bipolar update: Thanks for effing up my thyroid

It occurred to me that I haven’t really written about my latest struggles with bipolar (except the ever-present depression, of course).

The biggest develithiumlopment is that lithium has not only made me gain weight, but now I’m hypothyroid. Joy. So, I get to take yet another pill and I can’t stop lithium—the thing causing the problem—until my thyroid is fixed.

This is a pretty common problem that lithium takers experience. The super fun part is that even after you go off lithium, your thyroid may be permanently changed. What I’m struggling with right now is the idea that I can’t start tapering off lithium immediately. This is coming from my psychiatrist. She thinks tapering now would mess too much with my thyroid levels (well, yeah) and that it needs to be fixed before we can do that. Myself, I tend to think that getting the thing screwing it up out of my body would help, but that’s just me.

I’ve started on a thyroid med with my general practitioner, but will see an endocrinologist in a few weeks. They may be able to dig a bit deeper into the issue (or just re-re-confirm that it’s caused by lithium). I’m hoping they will have a different opinion on going off lithium sooner than later.

I have questioned why bipolar people notoriously don’t take their meds. But I have to imagine that the majority of them are on meds that don’t work and/or give them obnoxious side effects. Dealing with both of these currently, I can now understand getting fed up, frustrated, and hopeless and tossing them aside.

I still hold out hope that something will work. The plan is to keep increasing lamictal and taper off lithium. But since I’ve been depressed even taking both, the fear that the three big guns for bipolar (depakote, lithium, lamictal) will fail is creeping in.

What meds would we try after this? Is my bipolar depression going to be nearly impossible to treat?

We shall see. Further bulletins as events warrant.


The terrible 20s

I used to think that my 20s would be the best years of my life. Apparently, I was mistaken. And hopefully, they will actually be the worst—because that would mean that things get better.

It seems I’m not the only one to experience this. Both of my parents said that their 20s pretty much sucked. My mom’s 20s were fraught with change and turmoil and my dad went to Vietnam. And then, things got better.

I’m sure that many people thoroughly enjoy their 20s. But I sit here actually looking forward to turning 30, because that could mean that my bipolar is being better managed, my husband and I are both in jobs that we like, and we have some money to fix up the house and go on vacations.

Losing your youth is scary, but my desire to beat depression and feel better has overpowered that. I do tend to take after my mother, so maybe I’ll just have to survive my 20s before really starting to live, too.

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There are storms we cannot weather

When I was in college, my best friend’s father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his brain. stormIt was very advanced and there was little they could do. It was devastating. My friend was one of six children and extremely close with her father. It was simply unimaginable that this was happening.

Once weekend when I was home, I was visiting my church (more on that later). My old youth group leader asked me how my friend’s dad was doing, and I broke down as I told him. One of the things he said to comfort me has stuck with me throughout the years: “He never gives you more than you can handle.”

As soon as he said it I knew I disagreed. It was a nice thing to say and is probably a nice thing to believe. But I don’t…mostly for the reason that it’s simply not true.

People are given more than they can handle all the time—that’s why people commit suicide. That’s why they quit, run away, and break down.

This has never been more true to me than now, after I’ve been fighting a losing battle with bipolar depression for months on end. I have come to truly understand what “too much” feels like and why someone would take their own life to escape.

So though it’s not comforting, I prefer the truth found in Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream:

But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I think sometimes just acknowledging the hard reality of things can be motivating in and of itself. And when it’s not…there’s always Glee.

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moms and cookies and cats in hats

I am grateful for the little (and big) things that manage to peek through the depression—even if for a short moment—and give me hope, comfort, or even just a smile.

Today I’m grateful for Wegman’s coconut macaroon cookies (combined with diet coke), my mom’s words of support, and this cat wearing a hat’s expression that actually made me laugh out loud.

cat in a hat

how this chick manages to get these hats on her cats is beyond me….but it’s hilarious. and for that, today, I am thankful.

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I’ll be all right…just not tonight

Sometimes the best way to express what’s in our souls is through a song. But instead of boyfriends and exes, lately I find myself directing lyrics at my bipolar disorder.

Since I’m currently in a depression that’s been haunting me for months, the songs I identify with do tend to be melancholy, however, sometimes there’s also a hint of hope in the lyrics (thankfully I still have hope that I will find medications to make me feel and function like myself again).

The song of the night is Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles.

I’ll be all right, just not tonight,

I’m not the girl that I intend to be, but
I dare you darling, just you wait and see

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