Status update

I'm going to try to keep this as short as I can because I have a lot to do and finally have the energy — and mental clarity! — to do it.

I woke up at 5 am yesterday due to a bad migraine. I didn't fall asleep until 2 am. I'd laid in bed from 10 pm-12 am hoping to fall asleep since my thoughts had begun to take a negative turn and I knew it was because of lack of sleep.

I was up for a total of 21 hours. Between the lack of sleep and the medication side effects, it was a combo for disaster. I tried to use Twitter and play Scrabble and Sudoku as distractions but my negative thoughts continued to invade my mind. Go ahead, call me crazy, but I believe in evil forces and Satan was attacking me hard.

I am okay right now. My mood is just fine, holding steady at a 6 right now. But I was bad — very bad last night.

And yes, I should be eating better.

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This Girl's Biblical View

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
(NKJV)

Personal interpretation
Don't worry about anything. Pray and ask God for your needs and desires, thanking Him for everything He's already given to you, and God will provide you with assurance—a kind of heavenly, unfathomable assurance—that will protect your heart and mind from constant worry and anxiety.

Personal meaning
While I know I shouldn't worry about anything, I still freak out over things and usually they're the littlest things. (See Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.) The verse encourages me to pray and beseech the Lord for help but I've got to admit, I often forget and try to do things on my own.

Personal application
The verse encourages me to really talk to God—to make God real in my life as though He were standing face to face with me. Just like I would talk to my mom and go, "Hey, Mom, I'm a little short on cash. Can you help me out today?" Well, not that irreverent but that's the idea. If I have a good relationship with my mom, I wouldn't sit in my bedroom, fretting and worrying about whether I should ask her for money or not—especially if I know she has the money she can spare me.

God wants to hear me talk to Him. And instead of opening my big mouth to Him, I start complaining about my worries and fears to other people. Voicing my concerns isn't so much a problem as ignoring that God can handle it is. And God's word promises that if I give my burdens over to Him (with faith in Jesus Christ), He will provide me with comfort and reassurance that He's got everything under control.

As I am wont to say: It sounds nice in theory. Maybe I should try testing it.

Mood rating: 5.7

Mood Rating System Modification

I’ve revised my mood rating system located in the left sidebar. After using it for a while, I’ve noticed that the scale needed a little tweaking. Here are the changes below:

A plus (+) sign, used only for numbers below 5, indicate that there is no suicidal ideation.
0 – Severely depressed, suicidal and/or homicidal, immediate inpatient treatment necessary, inability to function (in daily activities)
1 – Severely depressed, somewhat suicidal and/or homicidal, monitoring necessary, inpatient treatment likely necessary, inability to function
2 – Severely depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring recommended, inpatient treatment optional, great difficulty functioning
3 – Moderately depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring optional, some difficulty functioning
4 – Mildly depressed, passing suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, monitoring optional, low difficulty functioning
5 – Emotionally numb, in a state of existence, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, no monitoring necessary, some ability to function, borderline mood (potential for change to 4 or 6)
6 – Mildly happy, content, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, little functioning problems
7 – Moderately happy, upbeat, no functioning problems
8 – Moderately happy, optimistic, positive, no functioning problems
9 – Extremely happy, optimistic, cheerful, positive, “in a good mood,” “feel great,” no functioning problems
10 – Extremely happy, potentially manic, active, energetic, euphoric, ability to function may vary

Goal for 2009: Staying Alive

I’m being hit by suicidal thoughts again. Hard.

I’m not going to the hospital but if these thoughts keep pummeling me, it’ll become a consideration again. I’m walking a fine line here because my husband’s family has had a suicide hit close to home earlier this year and they don’t need to experience another loss. I try to keep in mind how important I am to many people that I know: my husband, my in-laws, my mom (I’m her only child). I try to visualize the grief my mother would experience losing her only kid. It’s worked so far. I can only pray that it lasts.

In the meantime, I’ve had my husband hide my belts. I ended up in the hospital in October 2006 after my husband woke up just in time to find me kicking a chair away in an attempt to hang myself from an air vent.

After what now seems like a short reprieve, I constantly glance up at the ceiling air vent in our bedroom thinking about trying the hanging thing again. I’m sure I could find something else to use if I really wanted to but I’m trying not to dwell on the idea too much.

The lies that used to convince me to try killing myself, oh say, three years ago, don’t work as well anymore. I can fight off most of them:

Lie #1: Nobody cares about you.
Answer: I have a husband, a big family, and wonderful friends who love and care for me. I’d be missed.

Lie #2: You don’t make a difference in this world.
Answer: I have a 98-year-old grandmother who loves me to pieces, I have a mother who I bring so much joy to, I have a husband who tells me I’m the best thing that’s happened to him, and I have a mother-in-law who thinks that I’m so cool, she wants to spend time with me. I do make a difference.

Lie #3: You’re worthless.
Answer: My husband tells me all the time that I’m worth something to him and that he’d be lost without me. If only for him, I’m worthwhile.

So the “lies,” or challenges if you will, have changed. Here’s the new one:

“You’re such a liar. You’re just looking for attention. You want people to pity and feel bad for you while you sit there and cry wolf. So, if you’re so serious about committing suicide, why don’t you show them that you’re not kidding and prove ’em all wrong?”

Hmm. Good question.

Mood rating: 3

Beware XYZAL — allergy drug

I’m having a terrible allergy reaction that’s last 2 days. I visited my physician who gave me a few 5-mg samples of an allergy medicine, Xyzal (levocetirizine). This is supposed to be an alternative to Allegra, Zyrtec, and OTC Benadryl. I took time in the middle of the workday for this impromptu appointment so when I got back to work, I immediately took the drug. Then, I began feeling incredibly drowsy. I decided to look up the side effects on the xyzal site and found:

Patients taking XYZAL should avoid operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. … Take XYZAL at bedtime. Do not increase the dose due to increased risk of sleepiness.

Great. I wish my doctor had warned me of this before I popped one at 3:45 in the afternoon at work, 13 miles away from my home. Not only that, but after doing some more reading in the Prescribing Information, I found:

Besides these events reported under treatment with XYZAL, other potentially severe adverse events have been reported from the post-marketing experience with cetirizine. Since levocetirizine is the principal pharmacologically active component of cetirizine, one should take into account the fact that the following adverse events could also potentially occur under treatment with XYZAL: hallucinations, suicidal ideation, orofacial dyskinesia, severe hypotension, cholestasis, glomerulonephritis, and still birth.

A one-time dose probably won’t affect me negatively in the ways reported above but still — it’s an allergy drug. ALLERGY drug. All this crap comes from something that’s supposed to make you feel better? Sheesh. Glad I read it. I’ll be sure to avoid regular consumption Xyzal in the future.

So now it’s 4:50 pm and I can barely keep my head up but I figured I’d make this quick post to warn anyone with mental illness who:

a) takes Xyzal or
b) thinks that allergy drugs are free from side effects triggering mental illness.

Granted, the risk is low but it exists. It also sounds like it can impair renal and hepatic functions somehow. Watch out if you’ve got kidney problems.

When work is over, I’m going straight home and making a beeline for my bed.


Mood Rating: 4

Anonymity

anonymous When it comes to blogging about mental illness, that’s something that I don’t want my name connected with. Sure, I’d like stigma surrounding the illness to be reduced but it still exists and I don’t want it to affect my chances of working at a decent company that would hire me if not for my bipolar disorder and history of depression and suicide attempts. I think of some mental health bloggers — Liz Spikol especially comes to mind — who are brave enough to post their struggles
with their real names and pictures for everyone to know and see. And I’m jealous.

Jealous that while Liz still probably suffers from MH stigma from idiots, she has the opportunity to be hailed as a hero in the MH community. I completely admire Liz because she’s been able to talk about her experience having through
hell and back, especially on ECT. Her name out there raises awareness about theses issues and her presence in the MH community brings comfort to many people who are struggling with similar issues.

Then there’s me, having to adopt the name Marissa Miller in the hopes that no one finds out who I am. (My real name is so unique that if it was Googled, all of my articles would pop up on the first page.)

If you’ve started reading this blog recently, you haven’t read some of the 600 posts here. Many of them are pretty personal.

  • Being Brave: “I have much to say / And there’s much I haven’t done / But what does it matter / When death’s got all the fun?”
  • Identification: “Now, if I have enough fearlessness to face death, why can I not have enough fearlessness to face life?”
  • Suicide and Baseball: “[T]he truth remains the same. Not just for me but for all suicidal people: We don’t really want to kill ourselves, we just want to end our pain.”
  • You can do this:  “I sat in my car this morning with the ignition turned on, ready to drive my car over the bridge into the Schuylkill River. I was ready to run home, make the stupid “goodbye world” post on this blog, text my husband “I love you. Goodbye” and then ram my car into a divider on I-76. It’s the worst suicidal thought I’ve had since I ended up in the hospital in October 2006.”

I wouldn’t hire me if I saw blog posts like that. Perhaps some people don’t get frustrated by the anonymity; I do. I don’t know if there will ever come a day when I can come clean about my identity and let the world know who this person is and what she really struggles with. God bless all of you who can put a real face to a name and still talk about deeply personal issues.

Current Mood Rating: 5.9

Thoughts on Bipolar Overawareness Week: Part III

In all seriousness, I have wondered about the BPD diagnosis but in my mind, have somewhat fallen short. I don’t think my symptoms are strong enough to be plastered with a BPD label.

To conclude my several-post rambling, I should answer the question that I initially posed. Do I think bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed?

No.

Many of my fellow bloggers will likely disagree with me. Zimmerman’s study at Rhode Island Hospital took into account whether those “diagnosed” with bipolar disorder had a family history of the diagnosis in the family. Maybe I’ve turned to the dark side. Just because I don’t have a family history of bipolar doesn’t mean that I can’t suffer
from the disorder. However, I have a family history of schizophrenia: one father and two aunts. Does this put me at a higher risk for schizophrenia? Definitely. Does this mean I could suffer from bp and have the schizo gene pass me by? You bet. I don’t think that I need a first-degree relative to suffer from bp to make me a classic diagnosis for bp.

For instance, when it comes to my physical appearance, I’m the only one on both sides of the family who suffers from severe eczema to the point where my dermatologist suggested a punch biopsy. Does that mean that I need to have a family history of eczema to obtain the malady? Not necessarily. Why is bipolar disorder any different?

Read the rest of this entry »

Suicide Attempt: 1,346,985 (number is an exaggeration)

I had a serious mixed-mood episode during the weekend. I remember wanting to buy brownie mix at 1 am and refusing to answer my
husband’s question, "What’s your mood rating at?" because I knew I’d
answer 10. But then my husband woke up in the middle of the night to find his cell phone charger cord wrapped around my neck as I tried to strangle myself. I vaguely remember it.

Abilify is starting to sound better. Abilify or brain fog on Lamictal? I can’t decide. Sometimes, I do wonder if he’d be better off without me. I often think I’d be better off without myself.

Current Mood Rating:
4.9

Taking on pretentious Christianity: You don't always have to be happy just because you call yourself a Christian

Nancie at More Than Conquerors has a great post up including a devotional that reflects on Jeremiah 17:17: "Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom." It really contradicts the notion that Christians are supposed to be bright, happy, sunshine, and flowers. Christians always seem to act like because they have "joy" in Christ, they are supposed to be happy-go-lucky and everything just works out for them.

How absolutely and utterly wrong.

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm.

Because I’m essentially faceless on this blog, I can be me–like it or not. I’m not your typical born-again Christian. I don’t act pretentious. If crap is going wrong in my life, I say it is and I won’t act like things are butterflies and sunshine. I cuss (sorry to those it offends!) at times when I’m angry or frustrated. This is me; I am a human with faith in Christ.

So I’m out to blast this notion of Christians always have the "joy of the Lord," meaning "I am so happy because Jesus saved me from my sins that I have to go around and smile all day." NO. "Joy of the Lord," I think, means quiet confidence in him. Knowing who he is and what he’s done for you and through all the trials of life, never letting go of that faith because you’re secure in his love for you.

No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children.

We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.

The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Boy, do I feel like winds and tempests are exercising my faith. And I’m not going to act like they’re not. Jesus showed the weak side of his humanity. I’m not sure why some Christians think they need to be "stronger" than Jesus.

/end ex-fundamentalist rant/

Current Mood Rating: 5.5

Current Mood Rating

Current Mood Rating: 4.5

The Last Psychiatrist—and my thoughts—on suicide

"Your life is a publicly traded company.  You may have majority ownership, but you still are subject to a Board and to your shareholders.  If you want to kill yourself, everyone you have touched in any way gets to vote.  Good luck."

I stumbled upon this post from The Last Psychiatrist written about a month ago. Alone basically argues that suicidal people shouldn’t kill themselves because they have a responsibility—a duty—to stay alive for others. The comments mostly lean toward people having the free will to kill themselves should they choose to do so. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

"You have a responsibility to improve the lives of those around you." Excuse me?! When did THAT become part of the constitution? NOBODY has the responsibility or even the capability to improve anyone else’s life! Hell, you’re a Doctor and you don’t take responsibility for improving anyone’s life!

I’ve noticed that suicide is the taboo mental health topic even among the mentally ill. I’m going to go on a brief narcissist trip and mention that I received few comments on my last suicidal post. To be honest, I figured more people would have chided me for my distorted thinking. Makes me wonder to be quite honest. If I decided that I was going to commit suicide (which I’m not right now), would you support my decision or would you make a case for me to stay alive? What would you say?

Can I be even more narcissist and hope that I get at least 5 comments on this post? Thanks in advance.

Current mood rating: 6

Current Mood Rating

I haven’t used the mood rating system (left sidebar) on this blog since 2006. Since I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts recently, I’ll be posting mood rating updates. I’ve created a "Mood Rating" category for myself so I can keep track of the progression or (non-progression) of my depression. They’ll likely include no more information than the following:

Current Mood Rating:
3

Suicide and baseball

I’m suicidal right now. And it sucks.

According to my mood rating, yesterday I was a 0. Then I forced myself into a 10. I really felt more like a 5. I’m a 3.2 today: moderately depressed, passing thoughts of suicide with some difficulty functioning.

I know exactly what’s triggering my suicidal thoughts: my stupid assumptions about how my co-workers and boss feel about me.

I’m a total people-pleaser. Despite my assumptions, I have a tendency to read people quite well. I can tell when they don’t like me, when they do, and when they’re pretty much ho-hum about me.

I have two co-workers that are basically annoyed with me because of my absence on my birthday Friday (I know this because they were fine on Thursday), my boss is "ho-hum," and the rest of my co-workers don’t really care. (More later throughout the week on my birthday weekend.)

My husband continues to remind me that I need to keep my thoughts focused on God. My suicidal tendencies develop because I’m so self-absorbed that I take my focus off of God.

I want to kill myself as I way to punish my co-workers. There. I said it. I want to kill myself because two people are annoyed with me. (And I know they’ll get over it; they always tend to.) But I can’t stand the cold, stony silence. I can’t stand not knowing what people are thinking about me. I can’t stand the cold e-mails I receive when I try to be warm and friendly.

I have a lot to do at work. I’m a little overwhelmed because I’m still quite new, but I’m doing my best to keep up with things here. I should be currently working, but I’m taking the opportunity to use my 15-minute paid break as a way to relieve the pain that’s beginning to develop in my mind and heart.

It’s totally stupid to kill myself because TWO people don’t like me. I have a whole bunch of family and friends who love me to death (npi) and I’m suicidal because TWO people are currently annoyed with me.

I realize how silly that is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Bush Concedes Iraq War More Difficult Than He Expected – No kidding? Well, then, it's "mission accomplished."

Liz Spikol linked to this article in which Angelina Jolie bounced out of depression by "dreaming of playing a sexy comic book character in the upcoming Sin City sequel." – Wow, that's a way to cure the blues… But not "depression."

I have more to post on but I'll do so later in the day after I've done some work. (I'm running low on sleep and not functioning at optimal level.) I've also found a Christian blog that I'd like to post some thoughts on because we see things quite differently when it comes to suicide, but I need to do some serious Biblical research before posting so nothing until after the New Year. (Whoo-hoo! Former journalist doing research again! How fun.)

Today's Mood: 6.5

Compliments

Originally written October 13, 2006

“I’d be inclined to be yours for the taking / And part of this terrible mess that you’re making /But me, I’m the catalyst”
~ Anna Nalick, “Catalyst”


Riding on the heels of self-positive affirmations, accepting compliments also is important.

You hear:

“My, you look gorgeous today!”

You reply:

“No, I don’t. This is a bad hair day.”

The challenge is to accept compliments as additional self-positive affirmations. Don’t shrug it off or even dismiss it. Accept a compliment with a kind “thank you” and meditate on that for the day as well.

Consider this: You have a treasure box you carry with you everywhere you go and as you give yourself a self-positive affirmations, you put it in your box each day. A compliment is an additional affirmation to add to that portable box. When the negative thoughs and lies come to do battle, you can pull out your arsenal of positives to do combat–and most likely win. Consider the treasure box your mind and store priceless items there.

This takes practice, and no, it isn’t easy to put into practice. But the only way to go into war prepared is to build up your arsenal. And the last battle you’d want to lose is the battle in your mind.

Today’s Mood: 3

Bipolar disorder

“Avalanche is sullen and too thin / She starves herself to rid herself of sin / And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin / And she says /Hey baby can you bleed like me? / C’mon baby can you bleed like me” ~ Garbage, “Bleed Like Me”

Medication bottlesI went to the psychiatrist Wednesday and received the oddest diagnosis of my life: he told me that I’ve got bipolar disorder and that I’m on the wrong medication.

For most of my life, I’ve been convinced that I’ve had major depressive disorder and nothing else. When I was a teenager, I thought I might have been bipolar (age 15-19) but my manic side gradually faded with puberty and I became much more of a depressive.

This is the first doctor or psychiatrist in the history of my life to ever tell me that I’m bipolar. At first, I thought he got his diagnosis wrong. “I can’t be bipolar, I’m not really manic. I don’t spend a lot of cash – well, not recently anyway – I don’t experience euphoric states quite often and I don’t have feelings of grandiosity. And I don’t engage in risky behaviors, you know. I don’t drink or do drugs. I’m a good girl. I can’t be bipolar.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mood System

“They have a chart and a graph/ Of my despondency/
They want to chart a path/ For self-recovery/ And want to know/
What I’m thinking / What motivates my mood” ~ Sara Groves, “Maybe There’s A Loving God”

Mood chart

October was a tumultuous month that will be reported about over the next couple of days. I ended up in a “behavioral” (see psychiatric) hospital for 7-8 days then on the 24th of October entered a day program (see intensive outpatient therapy) for 9 days. During the day program, I encountered a series of questions I had to answer each morning. The first and most important among them was rating our mood.

The mood system worked on a numerical system from 0-10. The system varied between individuals, but here’s the system that I worked out in my head (using the day program’s guidelines somewhat):

0 – Severely depressed, suicidal and/or homicidal, requires immediate inpatient treatment, unable to function (in daily activities)
1 – Severely depressed, potentially suicidal and/or homicidal, should be closely watched, inpatient treatment may be necessary, unable to function
2 – Severely depressed, somewhat suicidal and/or homicidal, should be occasionally monitored, no inpatient treatment necessary, unable to function
3 – Moderately depressed, possible thoughts of suicide and/or homicide, should be occasionally monitored, great difficulty functioning
4 – Mildly depressed, passing thoughts of suicide and/or homicide, monitoring recommended but not necessary, some difficulty functioning
5 – Not depressed but not joyful either, in a state of existence, “emotionally numb,” no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, no monitoring necessary, some ability to function, borderline mood (potential for instant change to a 4 or 6)
6 – Mildly joyful, content, no suicidal and/or homicidal ideations, low functioning problems
7 – Moderately joyful, upbeat, little to no functioning problems
8 – Moderately joyful, happy, optimistic, positive, no functioning problems
9 – Extremely joyful, happy, optimistic, cheerful, positive, “in a good mood,” “feel great,” no functioning problems
10 – Extremely joyful, manic, happy, energetic, euphoric, optimistic, cheerful, self-confident, positive, excited, giddy, ability to function may vary (inability to no functioning problems)

I’ll rarely be found at a 10. Most of the time I bounce between 4 and 7. 10 isn’t necessarily a problem as long as it’s not a mood that lasts consistently. It’s not out of the ordinary to feel a 10 on a wedding day or at a graduation, but waking up in the middle of a normal routine as a 10 is out of the ordinary — especially if someone is known to struggle with depression.

So that’s my new mood system that will be now be found at the bottom of each entry. I hope it can help some people. I know it has certainly helped me and my husband.

Mood: 6

Update: This mood chart has been modified as of December 30, 2008.