Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Drugs Dont Work, They Just Make Things Worse

I doubt The Verve were singing about Lithium, but they may as well have been.

Tomorrow I see my gp to tell her I Say NO to Lithium. 

I have only become able to write now through taking a Lorazepam about an hour ago. Prior to that, I was (literally) catatonic much of the day, unable to move or communicate, with strange thoughts like just getting in the car and driving off, taking all the kids' money out of the bank, and not coming back. Ever. (Slight problem: I cant drive.)  I dont want to see people, I dont want to talk to people. Especially my kids. Their incessant noise makes me want to scream and kill kittens.

I cant live like this. I have no idea what is going on. Reaction to Lithium? Has it tipped me over into some strange Bipolar 2 mixed state? Am I NOT Bipolar at all and Lithium is making me crazy?

This drug-induced nightmare, whatever its genesis, has got to end. I was supposed to see my GP next Monday anyway, but the way I have been feeling I cant be sure I would be around by then.  Life was a lot easier when I was drinking all the time. How is this better? How can these effects of medication be better than being mellow on wine?

Fuck. I have felt shit since I stopped drinking and now its worse instead of better.  Did I kill the baby jesus in my past life?

Has anyone else ever experienced horrendous side effects from the meds that were supposed to keep them safe and sane?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lithium, Thy Name on, I know this)

I am cotton wool brain.

I am thoughts stuck in a whirlpool unable to get out.

I am words on the tip of my tongue.

I am apathy.

I am lead.

I am sleep.

I am nothing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eating Your Self

When I was a kid, I was tall and skinny. My long legs meant I could run faster than any of the other kids and hence always won the 100m races at school.   My only body-image issues were related to the size of my boobs (bloody small) and my nose (big)

As I got older, my body changed shape, as it does when you're female, but I was essentially still tall and thin. The boobs and the nose stubbornly refused to change at all, sadly

I fluctuated somewhere around size 12-14 for all of my adult life.

Then at 32 my life imploded.  A Restraining Order to get my violent ex out of my house was followed a few days later by a sexual assault courtesy of two "friends."

What my traumatised brain did was amazing, truly amazing. Never underestimate the ability of your brain to fuck you over.

While everything around my in my life was out of control, my brain decided there was something it could control, and that was what went into my mouth. Or rather, what didn't. This was all totally subconscious. It wasn't until years later that I realised what I had actually done.

I didn't eat. If I felt hungry I had a cigarette. (I was smoking a pack of 25 36mg cigarettes a day) I drank alcohol, but not a huge amount. I took crystal meth. I took ecstasy. I smoked marijuana. (I am really not expecting to ever work again, obviously.)

When I was at home, which wasn't often, I would drink Multi-V Juice and eat an English muffin with raspberry jam and cream. That was it. That was all I could afford to buy, since my drug bill was so high each week.

In about 2 months I went from a healthy 70kg down to 56kg. From a Size 14 to a size 8.  

I didn't realise what was happening to my body until I had been at that game for about 7 months. I looked in the mirror, and I saw, really saw, what had happened.

The collar bones jutting out. The ribs clearly visible. My wrists, bony. My hips...god my hips...and my pelvis clearly visible, I looked like someone from a POW camp.

This realisation came at the same time as my creditors raised their hands and demanded their money; the money I had spent on drugs instead of giving to them. So instantly, the lifestyle had to change. I had to work. I got hungry and couldn't just smoke it away, I actually had to eat.

Two months later I met my husband. I look at photos from then and I am appalled at my appearance.  I still own a skirt that I purchased the day I met MonkeyBoy. I hold it up to myself now and cannot fathom the mind that thought it was ok for me to fit into that skirt.

What I think happened is this: I never looked at myself and thought I was fat, so it never occurred to me that I had an eating disorder. I never threw up my food, so I never had an eating disorder.  And I didn't strive to be like the waif-thin models that were - and sadly 10 years later still are - everywhere.

But there are more ways to have a disorder than just Bulimia and Anorexia. It doesn't just have to be about not wanting to be fat. And I want you, dear reader, to understand that. If I had known that, or others had known that, maybe there would have been some sort of intervention sooner, before it had serious health consequences.

There are more than just two ways to kill yourself by not eating.


My daughter is 3 this week. I already talk to her and my 5 year old son about these images, and describe the women as unhealthy, and how the images have been changed to make them look very different.

We have to start talking to our children about these things when they are so young to get the positive messages cemented in their subconscious so they never ever look at magazines images like these and think they are normal. So that they are happy with how their own bodies look.

What their brains do after that, god knows.  I hope their brains are kinder to them than mine was to me.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


  • Its statistically half way through my life.1
  • It is the angle in degrees for which a rainbow appears.2
  • It is the height in inches of unicorns.3
  • It is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

    Image credit

    It is also the birthday I celebrate today.

    I'm disgusted to discover I am now officially middle-aged. When the fuck did that happen? Its amazing how much I don't want to bound out of bed and greet the world after having that particular thought.  I suppose I could celebrate being 21 again. The first time round it involved the biggest joint I've ever seen as my birthday present. Perfectly sound idea! Yes!

    All told, its a Significant Birthday. When you add in recent events - giving up alcohol, getting a diagnosis - then it is even more significant. Today marks the start of the transition from the first half of my life to the second, and - I think, I hope - the transition from traumatised, non-functional Sharon to self-aware, happy and emotionally stable Sharon.  I am only 3 years away from the age both my brothers were when they committed suicide and I feel that acutely. I don't want to still be struggling with my mental health to that extent in three years. There will be struggles, that is a given: Bipolar is a lifelong condition, and there will be lifelong struggles. But what I hope to do in this second phase of my life, is to discover what it is that gives my life meaning.

    When I was in second year Philosophy at university, I wrote a paper which stated categorically that the meaning of life for humans is to ask what the meaning of life is. To some extent, I still stand by what I said then, but I have learned enough now to know that we humans can find meaning for our lives in the pursuit of what makes us happy. Happy...happiness. It's a concept foreign to me, that's for sure, but  armed with the right medications, the right diagnosis and the right choices I might just be able to find that spark of happiness. 

    It is immeasurably sad that at 42 I don't know what true happiness is. 

    What I do know is that now I have a chance to finally figure it out. 

    That almost makes up for the "middle-aged" tag.

    1. a bunch of statisticians
    2. some maths nerds and god
    3. me. probably not true
    4. bow down and worship Douglas Adams

    Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    The One Where I Get A New Label

    Psychiatrists suck.

    Psychologists suck.

    Not all of them, granted.  There are some out there who do their jobs properly.  I met one psychiatrist the other day who seemed quite competent at diagnosing someone.  I also have a great psychologist who does what she is supposed to do, namely challenge thoughts and behaviors and help me live my life better.

    But the rest - and there have been many - that I have seen since I was 19, well they can all bite my shiny metal ass. (erm...)  How can that many shrinks of one variety or another and that many GPs (also lots) miss something like Bipolar?

    Bipolar 2 Disorder.  Bipolar Lite, if you will, which means I'm not about to spend the family fortune, shag everyone I meet nor will I talk a thousand words per minute and think I am Jeebus. But I will visit the deepest darkest pits of hell of depression and be serious about others being better off if I weren't here. I will also have amazing ideas for projects that take up all of my time every day, that I am not physically capable of doing, and no one else seems quite as enthusiastic about it as me...

    My psychologist made me do a test. I love doing test. Love.them.  This one was an hour-long online assessment through the Black Dog Institute. It took an hour to complete, and I didn't need the whole hour to realise into which box my answers would be fitting.

    My score:
    • 30 out of a possible 30 for Depression (still? really? shit)
    • 24 out of a possible 24 for Functional Impairement (that's some fucked up functioning)
    • Severe PTSD
    • Moderate Anxiety Disorder
    • Moderate Social Phobia
    • Moderate Panic Disorder
    Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

    When I saw the psychiatrist last Friday for a full assessment, the online assessment was confirmed and I was advised to start taking the mood stabiliser par excellence Lithium and the anti-psychotic Seroquel.

    Tonight I have popped my first Lithium, and so begins the new med-go-round. I hope this doesn't play out like the trial and error of getting my pain management right. I don't want to waste another two years of my life trialling meds before I am stable.  I have lost so much time already from not being properly diagnosed when the Bipolar first appeared when I was 14.  I dont want to dwell on how different my life would be had I been treated then.  I want this diagnosis to play a positive role in my life now.

    I now have a label on which to hang many things from my past. I have a way of making sense of things that seemed nonsensical. Nothing in me has changed. My behaviour hasn't changed, or not until the Lithium kicks in anyways. I'm still the lovable nutbag I was last Thursday. Its just that now I come with a label attached, one that is valuable and beneficial as far as my treatment, future happiness and understanding of my self goes.

    It is unfortunate that with this label comes society's prejudices, assumptions and negative ideas about Bipolar.   And with those comes the likelihood of being discounted or dismissed because I'm manic (even when I'm not) or as just another nutter who doesn't have anything to contribute (when I do), or as someone whose friendship may be too difficult to manage (I'm harmless, promise).

    The trick for me now is to concentrate on the benefits of knowing what is wrong with me my condition is.  That's a hard trick for me to learn, since I have spent most of my life being told I am worthless, but it is one I must learn.

    Fuck the haters, right?

    Image credit

    It's my 42nd birthday in two days and I'll be happy about being Bipolar if I want to.

    Monday, August 01, 2011

    Lush Life

    I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder dreadfully.  I do exceptionally well on lovely sunny days and want to kill kittens on miserable overcast days.  I'm a "Fuck winter in the ear" kinda girl. Today, despite being at the "ear-fucking" end of winter, was a remarkably lovely, sunny day.  I should have been hugging trees and singing The Hills Are Alive.  But no.

    Whether it was just being tired from pushing myself in the garden yesterday while weeding the Pits Of Blackberry Hell or being fed up with Ella being so needy or really enjoying the relative silence of only one kid at home then noticing it shatter at 3.40pm or being reminded by the lovely-sunny-day-with-a-light-breeze that this would be a great day for a cider in the sunshine...well, whatever it was, today I really needed a drink.  Not just noticing that I would normally have a drink at this time or in this spot, or being reminded every time I take the Camparal (to stop the cravings) that I dont drink anymore. No no.

    This was: "I.Want.A.Drink.Now!"

    "This will pass this will pass this will eventually pass," the voice in my head repeated. There is no alcohol in our house so there was thankfully nothing I could do about it. And it did pass. And I fell asleep straight after dinner.

    But not before I realised how precarious my sobriety is. 50-something days. 57 I think .(I'm too tired to do the math.) 57 days is nothing, not compared to over 1000 days of drinking to excess. Not compared to the 365 days I have to take the Camparal to ensure I am not going to go back to being a Lush.

    I have made progress, absolutely, but it could be undone in the blink of an eye because I realised that if I'd had access to a refreshing cider or a lovely fruity Sav Blanc I would have had one. And then I would have had more.

    I realised that there is no "I'll just have one" for me.  I realised that my alcohol dependance was not just about self-medication for pain that got out of hand.

    I realised that I cannot stop at just one, and I never could. I am an addict, which is a very different beast to someone who was "just" physically dependant.

    There is so much more work to be done here that I realised.

    There is also a story to be told about my visit to the psychiatrist but it is a story that I can't quite bring myself to write yet.  In time.  Soon maybe, even.

    Once I'm over the desire to drink again. 

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