I just realized that none of you know what I look like. So I figured I’d post a pic This was taken just a few months ago. My very long (almost to my waist) hair is now not even shoulder length and I keep it back in a bun. It’s also not purple any longer. We dyed it black in hopes of covering up the purple and it turned a metallic shade of blue! By the end of winter I hope to have it to my waist again!
Many of us who suffer from Bipolar Disorder find that we also suffer with hallucinations, delusions and some of us even enter into a psychotic episode where we lose all touch with reality. It’s the latter of the three that I try my hardest to avoid….there have been many times in the past that although there was no evidence to support my claims, the world around me was a dark and scary place to live. There really was people standing right where I was showing my Hubs, there really were people talking about me, I could hear them. There really was someone out to get us, I mean, we did lock the door when we left and now it’s unlocked, right?
Before I was stable, I lived in a world described above almost all the time. I lived in a world where no one did anything with good intentions. When someone did something to us, I always backed my reality up with, “See…..I told you they were out to get us!” In actuality there was no “they” and there really wasn’t anybody. People do things to others’ all the time, there is no rhyme or reason to it and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the “horrible” thing was done intentionally. For me, this could be something as simple as someone not agreeing with me to as huge as someone sending me hate email.
There have also been times in my life where others’ around me managed to help me feed into this type of thinking. There was a situation with a close family member. She had everyone believing that there were “gangs” out to get her. The truth was, she wanted people to believe that because she wanted her guardians to sign her back over to her parent’s. Her way of thinking was warped, but mine was worse. I knew she had made it all up and instead of me seeing it for what it really was, I took it one step further. According to mentioned person, she received a message that said “the gangs” were going to kill my children too. Instead, I took this to mean “she” was going to kill my children. From that point on, protecting my children at all costs had become my number one priority. Not that it hadn’t been before….but now we slept with baseball bats, knives left within reach, I even had Hubs put on alert. I was considering buying a gun. This particular incident happened long before I was diagnosed, long before I even knew what was going on with me. This incident happened in 2003, while I was pregnant. It took the police getting involved before I finally realized she just wanted attention, she just wanted to go back to her parents’. Just for the record, she did get attention, lots of attention and even more heaped on her during the years that followed. But that’s not the point here……back on track.
Fast forward to my breakdown in 2011, the one that lead me over the edge, into the ER, onto a Bipolar dx and numerous different med trials throughout the past year. At the time….I had been living behind the mentioned family member that had caused such a ruckus back in 2003. With her life in shambles and her apparent gang involvement, my paranoia was off the charts again. I started hallucinating, hearing voices in my head, seeing things that weren’t there, but the paranoia and delusional thinking, that’s what finally got me. I was back to sleeping with baseball bats, knives just within reach, my radar was always on, I hardly slept…..I laid awake many nights until the dawn, because everyone knows…..people don’t attack when it’s daylight.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have been able to test all of this against reality. I would have been able to talk to Hubs about it and he would have known that my reality was becoming distorted. I would have been able to test my thinking against reality and seen that the antics she was pulling in 2011 were much the same as the ones in 2003…..she wanted to cause trouble and she wanted more attention…..and again, she got lots of that.
The best thing I have come up with when my paranoia is getting out of hand is always to check with Hubs first. Hubs is able to help me see where there might be holes in my thought process. He can give me all the other possibilities as to why something is actually happening. If I continue to argue my point with him…..I’m already too far gone. I won’t see this, but he will. That is why having a support network is so important. So others’ can catch you BEFORE you fall.
I’ve also learned how I begin acting at the beginning stages of my paranoia. Am I locking the doors each and every time someone leaves or enters my home? Am I constantly looking out the windows? Am I jumping at every sound? If I’ve gotten to the baseball bat route…..then I’m already too far and the troops have to be called in. That’s when those around me know my meds may not be working correctly. Because if I have enough insight, then Hubs’ possibilities ring true to me, with insight, I can catch myself with the doors, the windows, the watching…..the baseball bats mean I’m ready for confrontation and I’m expecting it, not just waiting for it.
Being broken from reality is like living your worst nightmare……Paranoia has to be one of the worst symptoms I have ever experienced in my life. Paranoia is worse than fear, as the fear has now gotten the best of you and you are in the middle of FIGHT mode and nothing will stop you or stand in your way from protecting what you think you need to be protecting.
I remember back in 2004……someone cut the phone lines to our home. I blamed my husband and everyone else under the sun. Neighborhood kids, neighbors, strangers who knew nothing about us, heck I even thought maybe I had done it and didn’t remember. Once reality set in years later and I realized what was going on……I figured out who it had been and she was still seeking attention.
Just like depression has different stages, so does psychotic symptoms (at least in my case). I have learned how to gauge each symptom and know where I am in the cycle and what I need to do to get back on track. Usually the irritability comes first for me, soon follows the paranoia, delusional thinking and hallucinations. The pattern for psychosis runs quicker for me then the depression’s patterns. When I’m entering into a psychotic state it always starts with paranoia, if I don’t get that paranoia under control, then I start with the delusional thought process and within a few hours to a few days I’m slammed by auditory and visual hallucinations…….
I think learning our patterns, the way things play out for us is important. It can help us to jump back on track and seek help when things start getting a bit wonky….
Until next time….
Since being diagnosed in 2011, I have always tried my best to be completely med compliant. The only time I have ever stopped taking medication was when I had an extreme adverse reaction to the medication I was taking. I know that my stability begins and ends with my medication regimen. Without it, any tools or techniques I’ve learned mean nothing.
When I was in-patient, the doc there put me on Geodon. I was prescribed 40mg 2x a day and it was working wonderfully. The shadows were gone, there were no floaters, I didn’t hear the mumbles anymore, my paranoia didn’t even exist and I didn’t have an ounce of irritability or aggression in me.
My pdoc however changed up my dosing times and has me taking all 80mg at night. I have been doing this since about two weeks after coming out of in-patient and have increasingly seen the difference in me. My mood has not been as light as it had been. When the pressure got to be a bit too much, I began to snap and the paranoia began filtering back in. Last night was a prime example. There was a truck parked at the stopping sign by the corner of our house. This on any other night wouldn’t have phased me. I knew they were doing road construction on the main road and they were directed cars onto our road. But I couldn’t help it…..I went outside and watched the truck for a good 3 or 4 minutes. I just stood there, waiting…..I was certain this truck was sitting there waiting for me to go back inside so he could, I don’t even know what. But my paranoia was telling me, it was all wrong, the truck shouldn’t have been there, they are people who want to “hurt” us in some way. Soon the truck pulled away and I went back inside. But every few minutes I kept looking out the window, certain the truck would come back…….it never did.
Yesterday, the floaters came back. I could see them while I was standing on the porch, in broad daylight talking to my Dad on the phone. It was hard for my eyes to not watch them and I was getting distracted, sure that there was bugs flying around my head. Last night I was standing in the kitchen and sure enough, someone went running passed our house. They were dressed in a green outfit, dark green, and running fast. But when I stuck my head out the window, no one was around. It was still daylight, if anyone had been out there, I would have seen them.
I was certain that my level of irritability had EVERYTHING to do with the stress and the move. I haven’t been overly irritable, just slightly. Things, normal things, have been bothering me a little more each day. Except, before the messing with my dose came into play, I was able to handle major life changes appropriately. Now I know I was only on the meds for about two weeks before doc changed my dosage time. However, it was during those two weeks that we found out we were being evicted from here and that we could potentially lose our children. I don’t think I panicked too much. I acted appropriately and started taking action to ensure that my children would all stay together, that we as a family would all stay together. I think this is why people thought I was handling it inappropriately, because I wasn’t yelling, screaming and being aggressive towards people like I would have done prior to proper medication. Then I became over agitated and I cared a little too much what other people thought. I began snapping and getting a little too anxious about things. I felt myself melting down and although I tried to chalk it up to it being from the move, I knew better.
It has everything to do with the med dosing time change and I have proof.
Before we go any further, I would not suggest anyone else do this without consulting your own doc first. Okay, with that disclaimer out-of-the-way, we can get on with the story at hand here……
Today, I switched back to the 40mg at 9am and the other 40mg will wait till 9pm tonight. Guess what…..no floaters, no running people, no paranoia, no irritation, no irritability, no aggressive thoughts. I handled my day with ease and peace and I feel calm.
So Monday morning, I will be phone my pdoc to tell him that he has to switch my dosing and put me back on the 40mg 2x a day. I don’t have enough of the 40 mg’s to keep doing this until I can find a new doc in Utah….so he has to write me a script now before I leave. That way I can take it with me. It’s not like I can even cut the pill in half because they are capsules. Ugh! I’m just hoping he’s willing to comply considering I am no longer really a patient of his.
Until Next time….