Jagged little pill: has the recovery narrative gone too far?

Originally posted on purplepersuasion:

I feel that in writing this post, which has been brewing for a long time, I am saying something that some might see as controversial. So let me start by making something clear. This post is not intended to criticise the work of the big charities – I am a proud member of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and have undertaken both paid and voluntary work for both organisations. I have also volunteered for Time to Change and made a TTC pledge at last year’s Mind Media Awards. A huge amount of good work is being done on a daily basis to challenge public perceptions of mental health and to normalise discussions of the topic. Time to Change is entirely right to highlight just how peculiar it is that mental health stigma continues to loom so large given that a quarter of the population is thought experience some form of…

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Last weekend started off with intentions of  leaving behind a frustrating work situation full of lies and accusations and banking some pure relaxation time at my parent’s West Virginia camp. It started off that way; it really did.

Derek, my newly married and long suffering husband, didn’t have to work and we all pilled into the car for the getaway. I even took my notebook in case I scored some inspiration.

But Saturday, no matter how enjoyable, found me cranky and irritable. On top of that, I had forgotten my meds. Sleeping on the ground that night was the last straw.

Every joint in my body was swollen and in throbbing pain Sunday. I have now missed work for three days, and in addition to the stomach churning of Cymbalta changes, I now have the worry of whether I will get fired for missing too much work.

I wish I knew more about Maryland and hiring/firing laws when it comes to known “handicaps.” But at 12%, I can’t look up the number for a pizza place let alone a legal situation.

All I have right now is paralysis. My big goal today is to feed and medicate myself. I have tons to do, more than I even realize, but keeping myself out of the hospital is my only goal.

Mental Health Parity

Insurance rules for mental heath coverage vs. medical coverage. Not sure if it is a “Good” thing or not, but I don’t think it applies to us poor folks.


OMG – I am so excited!

I admit it, I am glowing with happiness!

Derek has officially asked me to marry him, and we set the date for May 17th, 2014. I am so excited…I spent the morning lost in pleasant plans of wedding reception bliss. I phoned my mother; her reaction was, and I quote, “What? Oh. So he decided to keep you, huh?”

But as much as I love planning events, I did have a few moments of panic. It started when I looked at a realistic budget breakdown. We said we would spend $1,200 plus $800 for a honeymoon. Then I saw that really means a $96 bar tab.


Well, I guess there will be a cash bar with free soda and juice.

So many things I would like to have will have to be budget. And this all hinges on Derek getting a job, any job, soon. So needless to say, a little stressed. But I’m sure after I get some real prices, I will feel better.

I really, really want to locally source things for the wedding, so we will see how at DYI budget meets a Shop Local spirit .


Writing Again

I’ve realized an urge to write again; an urge I thought would never return.

I wrote a poem the other day–the first in 11 months. It is only on draft two, so it needs work, but I am proud of myself. It is about the big fight Derek and I had a few days ago.

I am also trying, again, to move more of my stuff into Derek’s from my old apartment. I am hoping to get an office (at least a table and chair) set-up, so I can write at a table. It makes a huge difference.

The last time I had all of my possessions in one spot, laid out in the way I like, was 15 months ago. Since then I’ve moved three times. My stuff is in chaos, needless to say. However, the real trouble is that I don’t do well mentally with upsets like this. No wonder it’s been a struggle and a half.

My main mental health issue now is sleep. With 250mg of Trazadone and 24mg of Ambian plus Remeron, I still toss and turn, wake up, and can’t get back to sleep. I am really hoping some internal sweeping, as my poetry tends to do, will help the sleeping situation.

Myth: intelligent people don’t commit suicide

A good reminder for everybody! Mental illness is NOT a personal character flaw!

Fall Out Girl

“That’s me. The scarred and broken one in the corner. / Are you sure you want to get that close?”

Derek and I are closing in on knowing/dating each other for 6 months. I kept warning him he has yet to see me out of control. But now, thanks to the fall out in part due to stress but mostly due to taking the wrong meds, he has.

He is still here, but that may be because he is sick with a kidney infection. I jest, he is sick, but he wants to stay. Amazing, I know.

I feel compelled to type the truth: I assaulted him…a little. Not as much as when I went after my sister’s sleazebag of a boyfriend, but I did turn our argument physical.

I hate when that happens. I don’t feel like myself. I can’t seem to apologize enough. I want to run away from myself. But Derek ran after me barefoot and in his briefs.

We have been working on reconnecting, and we are considering a May 2014 wedding. But it all makes me wonder. Why? How can someone want to put up with me? To want to maybe suffer with me through childbirth with all it could entail? The answer is simple. And he tells me over and over. I just need to hear it on the inside, over the returning voices and doubt.

He loves me.

Med Check

This past week has been rough to say the least. The biggest problem underlying the whole out of control, mixed-mania, depressed train wreck was a simple mix up in my med dosages.

I used to have Archway monitor my meds for me, in that once per week a worker would stop by my house and help me fill my daily med planner. Yes, one of those big old lady ones with Braille and the whole bit. I have to admit, it does sound silly that a 30 something needed all that help, but then factor in the bipolar brain fog (read about that here) and the fact that I am on 12+ meds at any given time.

But I gave up that service a while ago. The reason was that I couldn’t just sit around the house all day until they showed up.  So I’m going it alone…and I got a little confused.

Instead of taking the maximum dose of Cymbalta for my fibromyalgia, which is 120mg, I was taking 240mg. My Neurontin went from 200mg a day to 600mg. And on top of all that, I was only taking my anxiety medication once per day.

Needless to say, I was fucked up. I also lost some of my sight, which has returned with straightening everything out. Now every time I see my shrink, I will get a print out and a double check on my meds.

I’ll try to write more on the fallout next week. Stay strong!

Colorcoding My Life

Next to my work computer, and hopefully soon at home as well, I have a veritable garden of Post-It Notes.

Each day has a color; for example, Sunday is yellow. I have listed all the regular tasks I should do at work on a Sunday…including the personal note to blog and pay bills. I am hoping that improving my memory for work duties–clearly visible for my boss and co-workers to see–will help me to actually keep this job. The only one I now have.

From July 2013 until I was fired on October 14th, working a second job at the Library was extremely stressful. I was forgetting all sorts of things, like taking meds, completing work tasks, etc. It was not until recently I’ve had some explanation as to why my memory is just so very bad.

I read the article “The Cognitive Connection” in Bipolar Magazine, a magazine I didn’t know existed.

“Psychiatrists and researchers are coming to appreciate that memory lapses and other neurocognitive problems—disorganization, groping for words, difficulty learning new information—can go hand in hand with the more obvious mood and behavioral symptoms that characterize bipolar.”

So maybe it is not a character flaw or something I can blame myself for, like some people have done about losing my second, higher paying job.

“Bipolar brain fog can complicate everything from succeeding in school to paying the bills.”

What a precise way to describe this memory meltdown: Bipolar Brain Fog! I was actually fired for attendance, but it all stems back to slipping off my meds and forgetting elements of my job.

I remember all the Post-It Notes and Day Planners and homework note books that got me through college. Time to dust off some of those tactics.

The article also mentions lapses in attention, which can cause lose of coordination and balance! Did I mention I fall a lot?

I highly recommend reading the excerpt of  the article. I’ve also subscribed to the magazine and am eagerly awaiting my first issue.

This past week went a lot smother with the Post-It Notes; at least I felt a lot more productive at work…a pay period of 79.75 hours.

The only trouble, and my Mood Score of only 57% shows this, is the raging anxiety, sleeplessness, and irritableness at home. I see my shrink on Tuesday, so I suspect an increase in my Buspar.

More on meds later…

Having Children + Having Bipolar

A big issue my boyfriend and I have struggled with is the decision on whether to have children or not.

Baby Hope

Both of us want children, and while there are some other issues to work out (him getting a full-time job; I want to be married first; etc.), I keep coming back to square one: am I too sick to have children?
I have talked to my psychiatrist about this; he was not at all supportive of the idea. He said I shouldn’t rock the boat, so to speak. My gynecologist and primary care doctor are supportive. They say it is a natural desire and when the time is right (I’m 33 so I would want that to be soon), I should go for it. I dislike my counselor and don’t really want to discuss this with her, and my friends are discouraging about the idea just on the principle that having children is somehow bad…even my friends with children. So I am a little lost.
I’m barely stable on meds…I can’t imagine being off of them. Since I have a history of suicide attempts, my gyno said I might have to be on some sort of meds.
One the one hand, I do wonder if my body will adjust, and relying on my support network will just become vital, but I will get thought it. OR, I will hit rock bottom and end up hurting myself and the baby.
Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

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Tiffany Santos - Find me on Bloggers.com

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