Friday, October 4, 2013

Medication Adjustment

Yesterday I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.  I am very lucky to have a doctor who is as caring as she is.  She doesn't just shrug off what I tell her, she listens and asks questions, and is straight forward with me.  I told her about the problems I've been experiencing with sleeping, and about the anxiety I've been having.  She recommended that I increase the dosage of the Seroquel to help me sleep and calm me down a little bit, and start tapering down off the Celexa because it may be causing me to become manic.  Since increasing the Seroquel I slept so much better last night, and I feel a little better today.  I sat by the pool today and being out in the sun and relaxing definitely helped me.  I think this proves the importance of taking the medication and taking with your doctor about how your feeling.  Sometimes a minor adjustment in dosage can be extremely beneficial.   

Thursday, October 3, 2013


It's been a long road to find a treatment plan that works for me.  I've been on numerous medications and I've been treated by different doctors.  Before I get into my treatment I want to make it clear what has worked for me doesn't mean it will work for everyone.  We're all different and we respond to things differently.  I just want to provide some insight on my treatment so you can get a better idea of what this road has been like.

The first time I was treated by a doctor was around 2007-2008.  I went to him complaining of being depressed.  But I wasn't completely open and honest.  I didn't tell him about the mood swings I was experiencing.  I just said I'm depressed and that was it.  So his diagnosis was depression and he gave me a prescription for Celexa 40mg.  I took the Celexa for about two months and then I stopped.  I was feeling better so I thought I had this under control.  I wasn't long before the depression was back.  But instead of going back to my doctor I decided to self medicate.  I was taking prescription pain medication to cope with how I felt.  I thought it was helping me.  But is was just making the problem worse.  It's like putting a band-aid on an arterial bleed.  It was just creating more problems for me.  I became dependent on the pain meds, and was filling fraudulent prescriptions to obtain them.  It wasn't long before I was caught and arrested.

After my release three years later I became manic again.  I wasn't sleeping, I was going on spending sprees, I felt like I needed to make up for lost time.  As long as I had money and credit cards I felt great.  This was the longest manic episode I had ever experienced.  It continued for close to a year, but then the money ran out and I had maxed out the credit cards.  The feelings of greatness disappeared, I lost my self esteem, and suddenly I felt like a complete failure.  So back I went to the doctor, but again I just complained about being depressed, and I was given the Celexa again.  My moods were all over the place. Up and down, up and down.  Finally I reached my breaking point.  I was becoming suicidal.  I was beyond depressed, and I had never felt this low before.  My family talked me into going back to the doctor.  And when I told him how I felt, he urged me to voluntarily check into a mental health facility.  So that's what I did.  I saw the psychiatrist while I was there and he then diagnosed me with bipolar disorder and added a mood stabilizer along with the Celexa.  I spent 3 days there and was released.

It took a little bit of trial and error over the last few months to find a drug combination and dose that works.  Currently I'm on Celexa 20mg and Seroquel 200mg.  My psychiatrist just increased the dose of the Seroquel today.  She also wants to lower the dose of my Celexa because she feels it may be contributing to the start of a manic episode.   Like I said it took awhile to find something that worked for me, and to this day it still requires adjustments.  I have to remind myself that there isn't a cure for this and I'm not just going to wake up tomorrow and be better.  But this is manageable, and with the right treatment it is possible to live a productive normal life.  I think staying positive plays a big part in  managing this.  And I can't say enough how important it it's to be open with your doctors.  It can mean the difference between a right diagnosis and a wrong one.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Biplor and relationships

Like I said in an earlier post I was once married which ended in divorce.  Do I think being bipolar played a factor in the end of my marriage?  Absolutely.  It definitely put a strain on my marriage and also my friendships.  My wife and I would get into these heated arguments which usually resulted in a screaming match.  Typically this was during a manic episode.  I would become angry if someone didn't agree with me or if they didn't feel the same way I did about my ideas.  To me their objections felt like they were trying to control me.  They weren't able to see how great my ideas were.  I would push people away from me and stop talking to them.  When I was depressed I didn't want to do anything.  I didn't want to go anywhere or be around other people.  I would go to work and come home, that was it.  If my wife questioned why I didn't want to do anything I would become angry.  I never told her how I was actually feeling so she didn't understand what was going on with me.  For 5 years she dealt with my mood swings.  She tried to be supportive, tried to get me to open up and talk to her but I refused.  As time went by our relationship became more strained.  When I started to self-medicate with pain pills I hid it from her.  After I was arrested and charged with drug trafficking she told me that she knew something was going on but she couldn't get me to open to her.  While I was serving my sentence in prison she told me she no longer wanted to be together.  I couldn't blame her.

I was too unstable for her to continue to be with me.   The years of my up and down mood swings, drug addiction, suicide attempt, and bad choices had worn her down.  During the time of our marriage I was completely out of control.  Relationships can be difficult, throw in untreated bipolar disorder and you have one hell of a mess.  The divorce was difficult for me.  I didn't want my marriage to end but I understood why is was ending.  There was no communication between us anymore, she lost trust in me.  I became extremely depressed when I found out she was with someone else.  I stopped eating, I slept all day everyday, and I was angry with myself.  But I still didn't get help.  I just dealt with it.  It wouldn't be until about 3 years after our separation that I finally got treated.

The relationship I'm in now is completely different then the one I had with my ex-wife.  She understands what I'm going through.  Although being bipolar isn't an excuse to just act anyway I want to, having a diagnosis helps to understand whats going on.  We have been through rough times together, most recently another suicide attempt when I ran out of my medication.  But she has supported me through it all.  I've been able to open up to her and tell her how I'm feeling.  Together we battle this.  She has allowed me to realize having a normal life is possible.  Having someone you can talk to in my opinion is the best support you can get.  She can tell when I'm overworking myself or taking on to much.  She's able to help slow me down.  Sometimes the people closest to you see things and notice things that you don't.  That's why I sometimes take her to my doctor appointments, having her there not only for support but also she can tell the doctor things I may have overlooked.  I'm grateful to have her in my life.       

Questions and comments

Feel free to leave any questions or comments.  I'm more then happy to reply

What is normal?

When I first started treatment for bipolar disorder I was skeptical taking medication was going to make me feel better.  Like I said in earlier posts there were times I stopped taking the medication because I felt like I didn't need them.  I learned the hard way that I did need them and abruptly stopping them has dangerous results.  Now I take my medicine as prescribed and I can say that they do help.  I haven't been experimenting the intense highs and lows I previously did.  They way I feel now is a whole new experience.  Is this what normal feels like?  I really don't know because Ive never felt this way before.   There's also this part of me that misses the mania.  Not the psychotic delusional mania but the early beginnings of it.  I would be so positive and full of energy.  I could do anything, and be extremely creative with all kinds of ideas in my head.  Its almost like the medicine has taken that away from me.  Like a part of me is gone and now I'm this new person.  I have to remind myself what could happen if I stop taking the medication.  I take it not only for me but for everyone who is close to me.  Even though I'm the one that's bipolar it affects them as well.  If this is what normal feels like, I guess I'm ok with that.   


Problems with sleep have always been an issue for me.  As you can see its 2 a.m. and I'm still awake.  I go through periods where I sleep great.  I fall asleep easily and I get 6-8 hours of sleep.  Then I go through periods where I have difficulty falling asleep or I don't sleep at all.  Typically this is caused by the racing thoughts going through my mind during a manic episode.  The difficulty I'm currently having has been going on for about 3 days now.  It started out with having a hard time falling asleep.  Now I'm just not tired.  It concerns me because I don't want this to be the beginning of a manic episode.  The Seroquel I take has been doing a pretty good job at helping me sleep so I think I may just need my dose increased.  I see my psychiatrist on the 3rd and I'll talk to her about that.  Other then the sleep issue I've been doing pretty good.  I just want to get this under control before it turns into a bigger problem.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An uncomfortable subject...suicide

When I was fifteen a friend of mine took his own life.  I remember the last conversation I had with him.  It was Friday October 2, 1998.  We talked on the phone for a little while and everything seemed normal.  Nothing he said raised any suspicion about what he was going to do.  He ended our conversation with "I'll see you Monday".  But I wouldn't see him Monday.  On Sunday, October 4th I got a phone call telling me that my friend had died.  He committed suicide.  How was this possible?  I had just talked to him, everything was fine.  It didn't make sense to me or to anyone else that was friends with him.  There was no note written.  So we were just left with questions.  Monday morning all of us who were close to him were brought into the school counselors office.  They asked us questions that we had no answers to. Did he seem depressed? Did he talk about death or dying? Was there anything happening at school that we knew about?  Did he mention anything about his life at home?  All I could answer with was no.  I couldn't understand what would cause a kid who was making good grades, had friends, and seemed happy take his own life.  What was so bad?  It wasn't until my own thoughts of suicide years later that I would somewhat understand.

When I was suicidal all I could think about was death.  I would drive down the road fantasizing about my car crashing into a tree or running head on into a pole.  I would think about what would be the best way to die.  I read about suicide online.  Looked up different ways to do it.  I had lost the fear of dying.
But I was also really good at hiding how I felt.  Years of practice allowed me to appear normal to those around me.  Even if someone asked me if I was ok or if something was wrong, I would answer with "I'm fine" or "There's nothing wrong".  Eventually the thoughts of suicide turned into actual plans.  I became so desperate for relief that dying seemed like the best option.  I could find no pleasure in anything that I once enjoyed. The night I overdosed on the Klonopin I was at the lowest I had ever been in my life.  I remember taking the pills without hesitation.  There was almost an excitement about it.  Like I was finally going to have some peace.  I thought about my kids and my mom, but they weren't thoughts about how my death would affect them.  They were thoughts of how better off everyone would be without me.  My depression had pushed me over the edge.  I was a failure and a burden on my family, I didn't deserve to live.  Fortunately I had not taken enough Klonopin to actually die from it.  But it was a wake up call.  I finally realized the severity of my situation, and the impact this had on my loved ones.  It was time for me to start taking this seriously and get help.