As you may already know, I tapered off medications in July to do IVF (which failed to work). I was fairly stable until around the middle of March when I became depressed, but didn’t realize it (that’s common for me). Looking back I can see I was, but didn’t connect the dots until I got hit with a mixed (mostly manic) episode on March 31st. So how do I not know I am depressed you may ask? Well depression is such a natural state for me that it doesn’t feel much different than everyday life. I’ve spent the a lot of my life depressed on some level. Usually it’s just mild depression, kind of going through the motions, somewhat apathetic and displaying a flat affect. I am a very driven person so you won’t see me staying in bed and calling into work sick (haven’t taken a real sick day in almost two years) and if I do stay home, I’ll still work all day. Ah, the life of a workaholic! But I usually burn up the energy I do have working and if I am really in a depressive state, I have a hard time doing anything when I get home. Sometimes it will take all I have just to cook and clean up afterwards. It really freaking sucks and often causes problems in my marriage because my husband basically does all the heavy lifting at home during those times.
So this depressive episode looked like going to bed early, eating too many Girl Scout cookies, watching super depressing stuff on television, having weird aches and pains, experiencing sleep disturbances, feeling super weak especially in my hands, and feeling EXTREMELY irritable (my poor husband). I had some work and personal drama going on and I was freaking STRESSED. I kept trying to excuse it away, like “I’m not sleeping well because of the annoying foot cramps I’ve been getting at bedtime, and maybe the coffee I’ve been drinking is making me anxious, maybe my diet isn’t right.” Then I worked seven hours one Saturday on something that required tons of concentration and by Sunday I could barely complete a task because my head was spinning and my emotions were jumping quickly from happy to sad, to irritable and angry. One minute I was laughing, the next yelling then crying. That’s when I knew something was up so I put myself on an antipsychotic/mood stabilizer and called my psychiatrist the following day. I could have easily stopped sleeping and gone into psychosis at that point so I did what I HAD to do.
Much to my surprise, my doctor wanted to see me immediately and saw me on a day he doesn’t usually see patients. He commended me for calling and was supportive during my appointment (I had a terrible doctor who made me feel like I couldn’t see her for months even while I was in the middle of an episode). My doctor knew and I knew that no amount of exercise (exercise can sometimes increase mania), healthy eating, or fish oil was going to shut that shit down. I needed medicinal help and I needed it quickly. He started seeing me weekly and we started playing with my dosage. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to get it right. In the midst of this, I had leave the country for vacation and I was nowhere near where I needed to be. I struggled controlling my elevated mood while also dealing with random outbursts of tears (talk about embarrassing) throughout the trip. When my head gets messed up so does my digestion so I dealt with IBS on vacation as well and eventually got really sick after a day in Cozumel. I don’t know if it was the water or my IBS, but I spent a morning in my room with the runs and when I called the medic for something to help, they quarantined me to my room for the last day on the cruise ship just in case it was a virus. I was ready for a quiet day to myself, but I wasn’t hoping for constant diarrhea. We did get free room service that day so that was pretty rad.
It has been 11 weeks since I had to make the call to my doctor and I think we finally have my meds just about right. I was on the highest dose of the antipsychotic/mood stabilizer at one point which made it difficult to do anything in the morning for at least an hour, sometimes longer. It wasn’t really safe for me to be walking around. I was very unsteady on my feet and I actually had to buy a slip resistant shower mat because I was so out of it in the shower. I felt like a fucking zombie for half the day sometimes, but I somehow found the strength to get to work every day. I filed for ADA Accommodations to make sure my job was covered when I was coming in sometimes a few hours late. The HR department approved it and provided a monitor and keyboard so I could make up time at home. What a relief that was! The medication I was on was sort of pain in the ass because if I didn’t take it with dinner before 7:00 pm, I would struggle to function in the morning. I work until 6:00 so having dinner on the table at 7:00 was challenging unless my husband prepared a simple meal for us. My doctor added an anticonvulsant 5 weeks ago that works as a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant that makes me drowsy at night and those additions have helped immensely. I recently tapered off the antipsychotic/mood stabilizer and switched to a new one to help with the grogginess that was pretty much debilitating in the morning. I’ve been on the new med for about a week and it has helped my mornings, but I’m feeling a little irritable again. Luckily I see my doctor this week and I’m hoping some exercise will help with the slight bitchiness.
It’s hard to describe what I’ve been through over these last few months. Staying sane during a mixed episode with rapid cycling has been freaking HAARRDD! I can function ok when I am depressed, but mania is a completely different animal. If I didn’t start back on meds when I did, it could have turned into a really terrible situation. I could have destroyed relationships, I could have lost my job, I could have gone so far into psychosis that it would have taken possibly a year or more to recover or I could have even lost my life. People can poo poo meds all they want, but I am so incredibly grateful for them. They have legit saved my life several times. I’ve learned during this episode that I never want to purposely stop medication ever again. The risk is just too great and I am no longer willing to take it. Yeah, maybe the meds will eventually destroy my liver and kidneys, but I’d rather have a good quality life so that’s the risk I am willing to take.