First, a bit of happy news: I got my yellow belt in Seido Karate last night!  W00t!  😀  My daughter got her advanced yellow belt, and this Saturday she will be competing in the regional science fair with her model of an electrical motor.  My little girl is not quite *8*.  🙂  Okay, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

So it’s been almost a month since I was driven to the psychiatric ER in an effort to alleviate my increasingly agitated brain.  In that time I’ve been from one extreme to the other, although I’m extremely happy to say that lithium apparently puts a lid on suicidal thoughts no matter how sad I get.  So that’s a good thing.

I’ve also learned that my particular bipolarcoaster (one of my new favorite words, thanks to friend Dianne Sylvan: she writes fabulous vampire books, look her up) is heavily linked to my womanly cycles.  So I’m like that character Chameleon in Piers Anthony‘s Xanth series: when it’s fertile time, she’s dumb and happy, but when the other half of the cycle comes, she’s ugly and mean.  Okay, maybe I’m not dumb when I’m happy or ugly when I’m mean, but you get the idea.

I was happy to discover that the website Crazy Boards is still around.  I found them back in 2006 when I had my “holy crap I’m at home alone with the kid for the first time EVER” freakout.  I doubt there is a finer discussion forum for mental illness of all flavors.  I love them for their forum descriptors.  Here’s the one for bipolar:

Bipolar Spectrum Disorder – The Pole Dance

If life is a ride, BP’s a fucking theme park. Whether you’re riding the roller coaster, spinning ’round the demonic carousel, buying souvenir toenail clippers for the population of Rhodesia, or weeping on the sidelines as some kid pukes on your head, we’re here for you.

Goddamn, that’s fucking perfect! Theme park indeed.  In fact, some bipolar oriented websites seem to play off the whimsical sounding nature of bipolar disorder.  Bipolar World!  Which makes me think of Benny’s World of Liquor from the movie From Dusk Til Dawn.  Or a retail store with sales from hell.

Sale, sale, sale!  Get your mood swings right here!  We got ’em all!  Up, down, sideways, whichever mood flavor you want today, we’re here for YOU!

What else have I learned?  A LOT about pharmaceuticals.  It’s a good goddamn thing I took so many freakin’ science classes between the ages of 10 and 20 and that I’m blessed with critical thinking skills or I’d be lost in a pharmaceutical morass from which there is no escape.  Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics (typical and atypical), antidepressants, anxiolytics, so on and so forth.  Let’s not forget that in large part, scientists still have zero fucking clue, or at least very limited clues, about how any of this shit works on the gray matter.  They can guess, and that’s about it.  Length of time on the market makes absolutely no difference.  Lithium is probably the oldest psychiatric medication still in use and the only true mood stabilizer, and they only just very recently have begun to figure out how it works (probably by regulating DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which reduces inflammation in the brain that leads to the mood swings).  Which is why so many people wind up spending months if not YEARS figuring what meds work for them because all you can do is try one and see if it works.  Not to mention that you have to wait several weeks or months for each one to really stabilize before making a judgment as to its efficacy.  Fun!  Not.

Then there are the side effects of many if not most of these drugs.  Tardive dyskinesia (a Parkinsonian-like tremor that never goes away, even after you stop taking the offending medication).  Akathisia (an inability to sit still).  Dry mouth.  Kidney and liver dysfunction.  Diarrhea and/or constipation.  Tremors.  Sexual dysfunction.  Weight gain (probably the most common side effect of all of them other than sexual dysfunction).  Fortunately I don’t have any of these problems (yet: the weight gain was because of those damned birth control pills), and I don’t want them, which is why I research the fuck out of everything.  Hopefully the doctors that have to deal with me in the future will appreciate this tendency and not find it annoying or infringing upon their God complex (and there are still quite a number of psychiatrists who would prefer you describe your problem as briefly as possible and then STFU so they can write you a prescription).

I still have to find a psychiatrist, a task that daunts me for some reason.  Same with a therapist.  I at least have a general practitioner to check my blood levels, but I need to get going on those other things.  The first task causes me the most anxiety because I really do NOT want one of those God complex shrinks who just wants me to shutup, and goddammit, shrinks are EXPENSIVE!  I try not to think about it too much and how mental health is only for the rich and those lucky enough to have just enough to take care of such things to the detriment of things like replacing broken washing machines (raises hand).  I’m glad I have the resources available to me that I do, but there are so many who don’t, and the way our country treats and thinks of mental illness in general is just loathsome.  Oops, got on a soapbox there.

I am also on a quest for books for children with parents with mental illness, particular bipolar.  I’m finding a lot of books about kids with bipolar illness (which strikes me as odd: aren’t mood swings just one of those characteristics of childhood?), but that’s about it.  So I may have a writing project in my future, because I want to help my daughter, and other children, understand what’s up with Mum (or Dad), and since I seem to have a gift for the written gab, not to mention a Bodhisattva’s heart, I feel obligated to use my talents and knowledge to help others.

But first, let’s finish helping me.  *sigh*

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