Monday, January 31, 2005


I can't believe I've let so much time past since I last posted. I'm getting lazy in my unemployed stupor.

Honestly, I think that little kids have it made. They have the consistent pattern of school combined with parents who feed and clothe them. Man. I wish I appreciated what I had when I had it!

Over the ages, a few people have asked me to talk about my relationship with Brendan and how my being bipolar impacts us. I can only speak for myself, but I think that the downs of bipolar are much more harmful than the ups in terms of our relationship. When I'm down, I don't want to do anything and that includes having sex or cooking or cleaning or going out.

Brendan seems to understand that, and he also understands that I still need to do all of those things. So he encourages me and finds activities that I can participate in. For example, we joined a bowling league and even when I'm sleeping 16 hours a day, I get excited about bowling. We also go to Notre Dame sporting games together and once I'm up and out, I'm much more likely to stay up for a little while.

I think that he worries about me the most when I'm in a manic impulsive spell. I tend to be more like a teenage boy—reckless, rash and rebellious—while retaining my natural girlyness. Impulsive shopping and being a bit more friendly than I typically am tend to mark my manic phases. My confessions about life, love and life philosophy tend to emerge.

One of my quirks is that I'm a huge goal setter. and I try to use that compulsion to better our relationship. So, for example, I try to cook at least five nights of the week. I aspire to have sex three times a week (and Brendan happily obliges, imagine that). I attempt to give out three compliments a day.

I guess our relationship works because Brendan respects my boundaries and my limitations. He understands that sometimes I can't help acting the way that I do. In return, I focus on controlling my behaviors. I don't take my moods out on Brendan. Sure, he has to live with them just like I do, but I don't (always) blame him for how I feel, unless it's his fault, which it rarely is. I respect his quirks and needs, and we're also getting good at determining when I need help and what kind of help I need. So, for example, if I'm spiraling into a depression and I feel suicidal and miserable, Brendan typically tries something pretty simple to cheer me up--like taking me to the zoo! I love the zoo and if I'm not happy there, then he knows that I need to call my pdoc.

I guess every relationship feeds off of respectful communication. I love Brendan deeply and that's always on my mind, even when I'm angry with him. I also know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Brendan and I are committed to each other 100%. That knowledge gives us the freedom to fight and resolve all of our issues. Besides, Brendan is adorable when he gets angry. When he's really mad, he stomps his feet and I just think that's so adorable. It's hard to fight with someone when you're simultaneously thinking about how cute they are.

There's a lot of love and mutual respect in our relationship. And we both have lives. Brendan goes to school and if I stay home all day, I'm always reading and doing things that I can share with him later. We enrich each others' lives.

When my bipolar gets ugly, some part of me thinks that I owe it to Brendan to take care of myself. I mean, I owe it to myself as well, but if I won't do it for me, then I'll do it for us.

I think that bipolar is like a little terrorist and it's my job to contain and control periodic violence. And if things get out of control, then I need to recognize that and ask for more help.

Meds are getting better all the time. And finding one that works is so satisfying.

So anyway, love, respect and commitment. If you've got those, your relationship is doing pretty darn well.


Monday, January 24, 2005

California Dreamin

When I was a little kid, I used to love the snowy weather. I associate the snow with fun—shoveling, building forts, hot cocoa, snowball fights. Now, I'm slowly learning better. The snow is a freakin pain in the ass. My car is frozen and filthy, but I can't clean it because my hose would die. My dog shivers in the snow.

The sun rises after 8 am here. WHAT!?! I suppose that living in LA and Phoenix for the past six years has spoiled me rotten. I'm soft. I can deal with 115, but this 8 (Fahrenheit, not Celsius!) crap needs to end immediately if not sooner. What keeps people going here? How do they get their work-outs? I mean, I would walk my dog religiously in Phoenix. Here in South Bend, both of us prefer to run outside and get back in the warmth as soon as he finishes his business.

Moving officially sucks. I was writing to my parents, trying to figure out why I feel so damn sad. My conclusion was fairly brilliant. I'm freakin bummed out because I just moved to a new place, I don't have friends here, I don't have a job and I hardly ever leave the house unless I'm applying for jobs that I'm ridiculously overqualified for but need desperately. Yep. I can't blame bipolar for this depression.

Although, my bipolar tends to exacerbate regular ole depressions. If a regular depression is like trying to keep your head above the water when you're utterly exhausted, a bipolar depression is like attaching chains and anvils to your legs. Right now, I feel like my synapses are playing this lovely game wherein I'm trying to keep swimming and these little imps are trying to slap on their fiendish shackles to drag me down. Ugh.

Oh, And, I bought my drugs today. Seeing as how I'm unemployed and I'm not carrying good health insurance right now (yup, I've got catasrophic coverage and that's it), these bastards were just horrible.

One month of lithium: $36.00
One month of wellbutrin: $321.00
Three months of lexapro: $238.00
Three months of seasonale: $137.00

Damn dude. Like, after I pay my rent and pay for these drugs, I'm going to have to support me, Brendan, the kittens and the dog on, well, nothing. Oh money tree, where art thou?

Forgive my self-indulgent whining. I'm rather cranky.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Shot Through the Heart

So, by now, most people who keep an eye on bipolar news stories have heard about the former Pro-Bowl player who was shot in an office building. According to his agent and close friend, Robbins may have stopped taking his medication and thus, when he was shot by a police officer, the linebacker was in a complete psychotic fugue.

That's not to say that the police officer should not have shot him. If some 300 lb linebacker is trying to take my gun away from me because he thinks I'm Satan incarnate, I'm sure as hell going to shoot him.

But my problem lies with the article linked above. More specifically, this line, "Bipolar disorder is a disease that causes extreme mood swings. It is treated with lithium but, experts say, patients too often choose to go off the medication."

To me, a mood is distinctly different from a psychosis. I mean, moods, like paranoia, certainly can contribute to psychotic states but believing that you are somewhere you are not is not a reflection of a person's mood.

Similarly, I'm sure that hundred of thousands of bipolar sufferers would be overjoyed to know that if we simply took lithium, then everything would be okay. I mean, surely pharmaceutical companies are throwing away millions of dollars on R&D for alternate mood stabilizers when lithium works for everyone. GRRR.

I don't know Robbins' case intimately enough to know if he was off his meds. I don't know how well his meds were working. I don't know if they had untolerable side-effects.

With piss-poor journalism like this, I'll never know. And neither will the rest of the idiotic public out there. They don't understand what we live with. They think we can just take a pill and be better. And articles like this perpetuate that belief. It's such crap! I'm all cranky about this.

It makes me feel hostile toward my meds (not like I'd come off them, no need to worry mom). It's like these little bull crap pills control my perceptions and my actions. Am I enhancing my free will or obliterating it?

Ugh. A conversation for another day.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Movers are FINALLY here!!!

So, I just got a call from my movers and my days of sleeping on the floor may be over! Huzzah!

In other news, the Yale DailyNews is reporting that psychiatrists are finding more of a biological overlap between bipolar and schizophrenia. Personally, it would not surprise me in the least if these illnesses were like inbred cousins. The symptoms are frankly astonishingly similar.

As researchers show how the two diseases are very much alike, I'm waiting with baited breath to see what kind of biological differences, if any, these eggheads might find.

On an unrelated note, one of my fabulous readers asked me to describe what auditory hallucinations are like. I can't say that what I experience is what everyone experiences, but sometimes, I'll hear muffled radio commentators. It's almost like there's a CD player on under some clothes, or a television on in the room next door. When I lived alone, I would get up and look for wherever the sound was coming from. Occasionally, I also hear people whispering or calling my name. That's the annoying one because if I'm walking around and someone really is calling my name, I'll sometimes ignore them because I think it's all in my head.

Other people get mood/perception delusions, like being totally paranoid that even though your hubby loves you, he's actually cheating on you with his secretary. When I'm high as a kite, I sometimes feel like I am so damn hot that everybody in the world wants to have sex with me. Or I feel like I could probably learn French in two weeks because I'm just an undiscovered genius. :)

I suppose right now, my big challenge is with employment and opportunity. I can't believe that I'm going to be working as a secretary for $9/hr when I have a master's degree. Something about that is just brutal. But oh well. I'll keep my eyes open for the golden opportunity—like a job petting kitten's that pays $50,000/year with snazzy benefits. :)

Hey, a girl can dream.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Nature versus Nurture: Round 1203938487

As one of my favorite bloggers points out, the debate about whether illness is caused by nature, nurture or some combination of both is still as healthy today as it was 20 years ago.

While some would like to believe that all of our mental illnesses arise from genetic susceptibilities of one kind or another, there is still more research suggesting that our environment has a significant impact on the development of mental illness. Personally, I don't understand why there's any debate on this issue at all. If we found a child living in his own feces who also had a fever, we would probably link his living conditions to his unhealthy countenance. Does it not make sense that the same child, placed in an environment filled with hostility, violence and abuse might manifest the mental version of a cold?

What I would like to see more research on is the chronicity of these illnesses. People talk about bouts of depression, as if depression is like a recurring rash that disappears with the proper course of medication.

If I'm bipolar now, will I be bipolar forever?

And why did lithium work for me where a host of other medications have failed?

And why do I only have auditory hallucinations when I'm entirely stressed out?

I know that somewhere out there, people are looking for answers to these questions. I wish they would let us know how our own experiences could help their endeavor. I wish that we could be more involved in finding a cure, in forming a support system for fellow sufferers who aren't doing as well as we are.

I wish there was more I could do to help.

And that's how I know I'm heading for a minor manic period. I want to do so many things—volunteer to help kids learn how to read, work at the local no-kill animal shelter, get a nice job at Notre Dame, cook healthy meals for Brendan, find the dog a sweet field to run around in, etc. I'm incredibly good at over-committing myself when I get ambitious and hyper.

I confess, it's nice to be ambitious again.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Who moved my cheese?

I've successfully moved from Mesa to South Bend although all of my stuff (ie, my bed and clothes etc!) is stuck in a moving truck somewhere on the continent. Brendan and I are sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of our new apartment, watching CSI and blogging. I suppose there's something comfortable in our domesticity.

Starting life over again in a new place is difficult for me because I was very happy in Arizona. I'm frustrated because I don't know my way around South Bend yet. I don't know where the movie theatre is, which grocery store is the best, where I can take my dog to let him run around, which restuarant has the best sandwiches. I miss home.

I keep telling myself that I can't form any kind of judgement of South Bend until Valentine's Day. By then, I will have settled in a bit and I might know someone other than Brendan. :)

I have to say that I've been having a minor problem with anxiety. I guess that's only normal, seeing as how my bank account is slowly approaching zero and my evil bank of death refuses to cash a dual-signature check for me because they hate me.

Man, I need to get a job. I applied for 5 positions today and contacted the HR person at Notre Dame, so hopefully something will come through within the next two weeks.

I'm so stressed out. I'm surprised that I haven't fallen into some sort of serious mood swing. I have caught myself trying to disappear under the covers, pretending that I'm really on a beach in Maui and I'm only having a bad dream. I suppose dreaming of paradise when you're freezing isn't terribly unusual.

Alas. I'm surviving. I'll keep posting updates about the joys of being me.