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Day 3: First Moodswing Off Meds

MOOD DIARY: -1

My day started off so great, and it stayed continually mellow throughout work which is abnormal. I thought I was home free… Honestly I feel like I’ve been so stable and good lately that I thought, probably naively, that this would last for a while. When I got home today, I was happy to see Eddy and Han, but immediately got irritable looking at the state of the apartment. Anytime Eddy relaxes during the day and I come home to a mess, I can’t help but lose my shit a bit.

This of course, was irrational today because Eddy pulled an all nighter and I assumed that he wasn’t going to do anything productive. He HAD to sleep he HAD to relax. But for some reason my mind thinks that people should just never slack off I guess. I feel really bad for him, because the unrealistic expectations I’ve placed on myself project onto him SO MANY TIMES, and for some reason I feel like he should just always be cleaning or doing chores through the day. I mean, a long time ago he DID say that when he’s out of a job he’d be the stay at home mom, but he never really turned into that role chore-wise. We just both really suck at keeping a place clean.

I could feel my mood swinging, and then it got even worse I think because I was hungry. So I ate a piece of bread and felt better, so we went to Target to get a card for his grandma who recently did something super generous for us. We ended up buying a buncha stuff at Target, and FORGETTING THE CARD IN THE CART.

NOW I’M ANNOYED BECAUSE I’M TRYING TO DO THIS STUPID JOURNAL BECAUSE HE TOLD ME TO AND I CAN’T EVEN THINK CUZ THE TV IS SO LOUD. Jesus.

Gosh I don’t even know how to describe it really… I feel almost like I’m slowly getting warmer until I boil? And I’m not sure why? The day was perfectly fine… I guess in general it’s still a lot more mellow than how I usually am, but it’s really upsetting to know that these feelings are indeed going to come back.

What to do to fix this? Ok I guess… factors that affected my mood today:

  1. Messy apartment, messy room, feeling like neither of us can keep anything clean, but spiraling into me feeling like maybe I’m a bit masochistic to let this happen all the time
  2. Leaving the card at Target when I felt like I would rather stay at home and finish the wedding illustrations that I feel has been taking me WAY TOO FUCKING LONG
  3. Having to deal with Han while Eddy got Popeyes and knowing I want to train him to be a service dog but he’s a fucking beagle and it’s like the hardest stubbornest dog to train. Realizing how long it’s gonna take to do and wondering if it’s even possible
  4. My EYE has been itchy since last night and I dunno what’s wrong with it. Plus I was feeling itchy in different areas today, including feet and lips and I’m wondering if I’m having an allergic reaction to something. Not fun to experience while dealing with Han pulling on his leash trying to keep him away from kids at the park while waiting a bajillion years for Eddy to come back with his Popeyes that I’m not even gonna eat cuz I ate MCDONALDS this morning. UGH.

I’m really not feeling well, and the day started off SO GREAT. Would keeping a clean apartment and room really help? Ugh I feel like PROBABLY YES. I think I need to work harder at my foundations… my structure of schedule and trying to maintain a nice living space. Oh that’s another thing, I ended up waking up late and because we went to McDonald’s it threw off my whole schedule… meaning I got into work later than usual, got home later than usual, and now feel like a fucking failure again.

But I’m not, remember? At least I should remember. That’s the whole point of doing this. Right? To remind myself that I’m not just a fuck up. Treat yourself with love, Elora, remember. I should also treat Eddy with love 😦 I feel so bad I know he’s also prone to forgetting and I exploded at him because of the card.

He just came in and asked “Baby how much do you hate me? I’ll always still love you no matter what”

;____; He’s so perfect.

I’m so grateful to be with someone so patient… I think I need to go to sleep. It’s worth it to just note this mood and remember what the causes were… I’ve done my duty.

Today I watched Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive which was really insightful. There was a woman in there that said she kept a mood diary, 1-3 for mania, 0 for stable, -1 to -3 for depression. I think I’ll add that onto these as well.. it’ll be an interesting thing to track. There was also a guy who said that 20% of bipolar people kill themselves, 40% never function well enough and live with families, another 20% don’t function at their potential and get dead end jobs, 20% somehow stabilize and recover and can lead productive lives. I hope I’m part of the 20% that stabilizes and not the 20% that kills themselves or never functions 😐

“My stress is your easy day at the office. One person copes, the other goes mad.” – Stephen Fry

 

Day 3: Shower Epiphanies, Running and Dogs

I woke up this morning to find that Eddy had pulled an all nighter to finish freelance, and we ended up going to McDonalds to get breakfast. This is something we’d do SO MUCH in what I call our “old life” when we first started dating to about like a year ago when I tried getting really serious about our health, then we would only do it for special occasions like going to the airport or Disneyland or something. I realize though that the mornings where I do unexpected things puts me in a really good mood because it makes me feel like I have a life outside of work.

I’m trying to go deeper into understanding why work gives me so much anxiety, and I think it’s because I spent so long trying to get into the animation industry that I constantly feel unworthy and never wanna fuck it up. My mom raised me to be an academic, which in recent years when Christie told me about the MBTi stacking traits and the enneagram, I was told that I was being forced to function at my lower traits my whole childhood. I basically felt trapped and unable to explore, when exploration and learning through others and learning through doing are my primary function stacks that result in my higher learning. So basically being at work reminds me of being in school, and because I spent so long trying to please my mom with good grades rather than figuring out who I was at a younger age, I feel like I can never slack off or treat work like other people do. Hence the anxiety and not knowing how to interact with people at work. Not understanding the balance of work to play… The only times I was ever comfortable at work were when I was working at Roger’s Gardens and Style Addiction and basically had my own office away from everyone else. It’s kinda ironic because I love people but I can really only interact with them when I’m able to fully immerse myself in the experience, such as being outside, at a party, or… well haha anywhere but work xD So then I feel like nobody likes me since I never visit them at their desks etc. I’m realizing more and more that if I’m around people who I don’t feel comfortable enough with, it affects me way too deeply that it can set off my mood and make me hate the world during the day, which in turn causes me to stop focusing and not get my work done in time, leave late and fuck up my whole schedule and make me feel like a failure.

Wow that was a long tangent. I was basically trying to say that… doing stuff with Eddy in the morning that I would normally do like later in the day makes me feel like I’ve had an enjoyable full day of interaction with the loves of my life, Eddy and our pup Han, so it puts me at ease for when I get to work and sets my mood up for success. I already interacted with people at work today! So everything is happy! 😀

What I really wanted to talk about though was how eating the McDonalds made me really start to see how eating healthy changes your palette over time. The sausage egg mcmuffin and hashbrown used to something that made me HAPPY BEYOND BELIEF but now I can basically taste all the unhealthiness of it. It was still good, but definitely didn’t have the same effect on me as before. Right when we began dating, part of what made me realize Eddy was the one is how he would wake up early and grab me McDonalds breakfast and leave it on the bedside table so that I would wake up to it… such a knight in shining armor.

Anyway, when I went to run I had this pain in my lower stomach, similar to cramps but not really. I assumed it was from the sausage mcmuffin. Regardless, I forced myself to run 3 miles because I think I’m getting addicted to running O_O YESSS! What i’ve always wanted! I’ve hoped to be consistent enough to get addicted but could never force myself out… having Han helps since I have to take him out first thing in the morning anyway, so it’s nice that it gets me out of my shell enough to just suck it up and do it. But seriously now running gives me such euphoria, and I think it’s because I’m choosing to be mindful about it. I’m also really starting to see WHY it’s so important for people with mental illness to exercise, and why so many people, especially with depression, have said that running has saved their life.

I think one of the big things that started changing my relationship with running was the decision to stop listening to music and focus on my surroundings. I used to run high and tell myself “Ok Elora, now look through your 3rd eye” and when I would make the conscious decision to do that, I felt like I could feel the truth of everything around me. I realize now that what that actually means is being acutely aware of my surroundings. I find that when I do the 3rd I thing now, I essentially choose to focus on one sense at a time, like smelling the grass being mowed in the park or the fertilizer, listening to my steps hit the ground, the birds singing, squirrels chittering, today I heard that beagle Faith barking incessantly after them… feeling the dirt under my feet, the wind and sun against my skin… I find that focusing on any of these things rather than my thoughts helps me appreciate the world, appreciate existence, and also makes me feel like this is just the matrix so I need to not take it as seriously as I have been. It makes it feel like a videogame, and I find that over time my music has become the world. Running quiets my thoughts, and I feel like that aspect of “game” makes me feel like I’m never going to get bored of it.

I’ve been building a habit of, when I feel pain, to close my eyes and try to run in a straight line while counting to 10. In the beginning I would chicken out and think I’d run into someone coming my way, but today I counted all the way up to 30 without even cheating! (Like opening my eyes a lil bit) The pain in my stomach seemed like not even that big a deal, and sometimes I would even choose to meditate on it and FEEL it… but in the way that was interesting rather than intolerable. I wanted to go 4 miles even but I REALLY had to take a shit.

Here’s a link that Bre sent me yesterday with runner Deena Kastor talking about how mindfulness helps with HER runs too 😀

I’m trying out this pomodoro timer thing to make sure I don’t ramble on and on forever. You know really… it’s cool that I have this blog because I can type faster and more than I could ever WRITE BY HAND in my journal in 25 min. I have 8 min to go and have already written this much! 😀 I love the idea of the pomodoro because it’ll beep when I’m done and NO MATTER WHAT I’LL HAVE TO STOP.

Anyway! When I got home to shower, I had a sudden epiphany. Both me and Eddy are such messy people, but we’re both working hard to try and become aware of our bad patterns and fix them. I think it helps that we’re getting married this August, and I think it also helps that we have a puppy now. When our old dog Einstein died last November, it was a shock to our whole world because we started to understand that we HAD to change. Einstein was 16, and because he was old it made us be ok with just staying in, taking it easy, and living in filth because he couldn’t control his bowel movements and it was excusable.

Now that we have Han though, it’s like we have to get our shit together because he’s so new to this world (7 months now). I can’t even express how much he’s changed our lives… maybe someday when I have a full 25 min I’ll explain, but dogs really are such a gift to humanity. They have such great personalities and I dunno… remind me so much of humans but with the ability to truly live in the present and be a pure expression of love. They are so happy just being around you and don’t compare their lives to that of other dogs. They don’t feel envy… just love. I think humans love having them around for that reason. They remind you what’s actually important in life, and they don’t put up walls in the same way humans do.

OMG I’M ALMOST OUT OF TIME!

When I got in the shower after running I couldn’t help but instantly be disgusted. Neither of us ever take the initiative to clean, and I felt like I was just getting sick from all the mold in there, yet didn’t feel like I had time before work to clean the damn thing. I NEVER HAVE TIME. But I actually do. That mindset needs to change. Seeing this dirty shower really had an effect on me today… maybe it’s because my feet were super itchy for a weird reason. Maybe I have to clean my shoes? Or maybe I felt like I haven’t felt 100% for months and breathing in mold fumes wasn’t helping. But whatever it is I had the epiphany of “Do I do this to myself for a reason? Why do I let things get so bad before I actually do anything to fix them? Do I gain some weird pleasure from this?”

Regardless of what it is, it made me take a step back and look at my life, my mess, my chaos. I think I’m really truly starting to understand why people say that organization and cleanliness is a huge part of mental health. If I’m gonna do this no meds thing, I really need to start with cleaning my room.

BOOM! TIMER DONE! Looks like I can write a LOT in 25 min… woohoo!

 

Day 2: Core Struggle

Thought this was important. Was talking with Amy today about how everyone has a core struggle to deal with. She asked what mine was and this is how I answered. Gotta save it! How will this change over time?

i feel like the easiest way to say it is like… longing to be free while being afraid to be free. i have all those escapist tendencies and long for the simple life but cant help but wanna be part of this modern world but cant seem to find my place in it”

Gosh I hope I don’t regret making this blog.

Day 2: Stream of Consciousness

I started this draft at work and wondered what I was doing. Am I starting a draft because I want this to be some great work of writing? Didn’t I decide yesterday that I wanted this all to be stream of consciousness? Like… a conversation with myself? Back when I was feeling pretty stable, I journaled everyday for probably like 20 days and felt like it really helped. In this journal, each entry started with “Dear Elora” like it was a message to myself. The inner me. I felt like that was really effective. Today I’m wondering… should I just be doing that? What about me is making this want to be a blog rather than a private journal?

It bothers me because me and Eddy just went to walk Han and he brought up exactly that. He asked “Why make this a blog? As soon as you write for an audience, you’re putting up an image. Why not just make it private?” It bothered me because I had already thought of that.

I started this blog yesterday with the intention of it being an experiment in thought. An experiment setting a control variable, the me without meds and weed. The pure me, so that let’s say, if I did go back on meds and stuff I’d have something to compare it to now that I know that I’m bipolar and these are patterns not just instances of me being “broken.” But then this morning I woke up to a comment… and it made me SO HAPPY! I was like “WHAT! I just made this thing… how did people even find it?!” I made this blog with the intention of it being secret. Something “just for me.”

But Elora, if it’s “just for you” why put it on the internet?

That’s the question isn’t it.

My rationale to Eddy was that I’m trying to get over my fear of sharing. Why share? He asks. Well obviously to help people. To make it clear, I don’t have any delusions of grandeur or anything where I’m thinking that my word is gold and I’m gonna save the world yada yada.

Side note though: April told me to watch the recent ep of My Hero Academia, and

Eddy just came into the room and we launched into a long conversation about a lot of deep things. Part of the conclusion I just came to was that, if I’m to do this blog I CAN’T be using the delete key. This needs to continue on as only stream of consciousness, as though i was writing in a journal.

I also need to time these so that this doesn’t take up too much of my time. Eddy pointed out that he can see this potentially being the beginning of a new bad cycle, and I was afraid to admit it out loud but, I had already seen that coming. As soon as I saw that you can get comments on here… hoo boy. I see now that I almost have an addiction to expectation, and addiction to as soon as I’m gaining any sort of validation from ANYONE, things shift so it’s no longer truly me.

Once you have an audience, you perform.

I don’t want to perform. I just want to be real. I think part of my biggest fear is that I’ll always only “perform” and never be as vulnerable as I actually want to be.

A heartbreaking thing that me and Eddy have come to realize is that our “grand plans” or what we want for the future is switched. Everything is a contradiction, especially me. Eddy currently lives the simple life and he’s happy just living with me and Han, but he’s working toward a life that would complicate things. Pursuing having his own show would mean that he would choose his career over me and Han, or if I were to join him in creating a show… we would both give up that of which many people regret on their deathbeds — not spending enough time with family. I long for the simple life, and although he’s RIGHT THERE, I can’t help but still work toward “getting my shit together,” “becoming something” or “being part of the animation industry.” I’m addicted to pressure in my life, to validation, but not in the sense that I have to constantly be posting selfies or posting status updates of my inner turmoil. I feel like, maybe to some form of naivety, I have something to say and that sharing my story in some way could possibly help people. Some dumb part of me can’t help but want to be a hero, at least for somebody.

Which goes back to My Hero Academia. If I’m timing my shit, I can’t even really talk about that episode, so instead I’ll post some stuff right here to remind me so I can look back on this fondly in times of darkness.

 

My earlier draft that I wrote at work had a bunch of responses to finally starting to read Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind.” It also had thoughts of… “oh hey I’m at work without meds. This isn’t so bad but I’m not particularly as friendly as I wish I was… hmmm probably because I wanted to get 8 hours of sleep and slept in late so I just wanted to get my work done. Regardless, I want to try to be more friendly to make myself feel better.”

All the stuff with work and An Unquiet Mind no longer even really seem relevant because of the conversations I’ve been having with Eddy. What does that mean? Should I write ideas out as soon as I have them? Or should it not even matter? Should I focus instead on being a shaman and looking within for the answers? Or should I take the time to write out all my thoughts so they’re available for the public? The public shouldn’t matter. The reason I’m doing this is more for me, but I hope (again maybe naively) that maybe some of what I have to say could maybe possibly help someone. Why is this so complicated?!

UGH ok I’m done my mind hurts and I need to go do something useful. Here’s a quote that survived my draft though from the beginning of Unquiet Mind, which, btw had me choked up for most of the day because I felt her SO HARD. It also made me think.. goddamn are all bipolar people destined to act on their suicide impulse at some point in their life? If so… I NEVER WANT TO ACT ON IT. Because I’m just that stubborn.

At least I can now say that I never want to kill myself. Hopefully I look back at this post in the future if I need to.

Something I also need to do… not go back and read these posts after I write. Gonna just write em and leave em. Sorry if there are any typos. (ELORA WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?! WRITE THIS FOR YOU NOT THEM DAMMIT)

“The Chinese say that before you can conquer a beast you must first make it beautiful.” – Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

 

 

Day 1: Hi I’m Elora and I’m Off My Meds!

It’s ironic that I’m starting this blog on Father’s Day because I’m pretty sure I got my bipolar tendencies from my Dad. I wish I could talk to him about it, but he passed away in December 2015, and I just found out that I’m OFFICIALLY bipolar about a month ago, May 10. I should’ve started this then, but I guess at the time I wasn’t sure how much it would impact my life to get this diagnosis. Turns out quite a lot. Now this first post will be super crazy long so I can write all this down before I forget! Hopefully from now on I can be consistent, because more and more I’m realizing how quickly things can change. I’m also realizing the quicker things go, the more I want to hold on to the memories as they pass… but I digress.

My UNofficial diagnosis was on April 9 when I went into the doctor for a bad cough I’d had since March, hoping for some antibiotics to finally get rid of it. That day there was a random depression screening, which apparently is something going around because I had to fill out the SAME screening at the gynecologist last week. Maybe the mass shootings of our generation are pushing doctors to care more about checking their patient’s mental health. But anyway, it turns out from this initial depression screening that I was pretty damn depressed haha. Actually, looking back at this screening now, I feel like I’m in a MUCH better place at my current state. However, seeing my answers to these questions reminds me of where I was then… and I can feel it so clearly. It’s nice to know that at least some progress has been made.

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Dr. Ribaudo was pretty concerned about the findings of this thing and had a serious conversation with me. This resulted in me coming to understand that joking about suicide is bad, normal people are supposed to feel a lot more stable than I do, and that my condition was a LOT worse than I thought. She said she wanted to prescribe me medicine for my depression, I said I wasn’t comfortable with it. She asked if I had mental health issues in my family history, and I said I knew my dad had something because my mom always said he was crazy and he had to go to the mental hospital after he jumped on our car when my mom threatened to leave. But she never told me what was actually wrong with him. She looked at me with pity and made me take ANOTHER screening.

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I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face when I brought this into her office. She looked at me like I had cancer or something and said “This is not good. I can’t prescribe you any medication because this is serious–you need to see a psychiatrist right away. There’s a good chance you’re bipolar. It’s also genetic.” I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I just stared and said “Ok…” She continued. “There will be a number for you to call on the referral. PLEASE call that number. They can hook you up with a psychiatrist. And I’m also prescribing you with some nasal spray and antibiotics for your cough.” “Oh good. Ok” I said.

Well, at least I got the antibiotics. 😐

Even though when I left, my doctor has said she couldn’t prescribe me medicine, it turned out she’d done it anyway! I went to pick up my nasal spray and antibiotics, and sure enough they also gave me Bupropion, a generic form of Wellbutrin. I told the guy at Walgreens I didn’t want that one, just the nasal spray and antibiotics. And he said “Well we made it so you should just take it.” I took this as a sign from the universe that maybe I should give meds a try, as much as they scared me. “Alright” I said, taking it anyway. “You’re cool,” he said, “You fed a giraffe.” My wallet has a sticker that says that, and that guy ALWAYS brings it up every time he sees me. He’s pretty cool. Sign taken, universe.

I decided to try taking the bupropion and hold off on the psychiatrist. To be honest, psychiatrists and pharmaceutical medicines freaked me out. From a young age, my mom had villainized my dad to me, saying he was “crazy”, or “he’s a little off today” or “I don’t know what’s wrong with your dad, the medicine isn’t good for him.” She would spit out the word “psychiatrist” with such hatred, really perpetuating the mental health stigma for my impressionable young ears. I feel sorry that my mom was such a harsh critic for my dad, even though I know she cared for him and actually WAS supportive, he probably didn’t feel that way when he was going through the dark times. I was terrified to see a psychiatrist, but I decided to call the number anyway. Dr. Ribaudo’s serious face was no joke, as much as I tried to convince myself that it was.

Calling this number was not what I expected. It was almost like… a suicide hotline. I guess maybe they deal with pretty bad cases where people are on their last leg of sanity because I got this really nice kid on the phone who kept telling me things would be okay. I went along with it, and told him about my mood swings, my depression, and how I could go nights without sleeping and afterward I’d always want to kill myself. And how it got so bad last year that I actually looked up ways to do it, and my fiance got REALLY mad at me. He told me that even though I haven’t had an official diagnosis yet, being bipolar isn’t so bad. He told me that instead of focusing on how bad it makes me feel, to focus on the good. He told me to read “An Unquiet Mind” and “Touched With Fire” by Kay Redfield Jamison, because she was a creative just like me, but she learned to make the most of her disorder.

Disorder. Do I have a disorder now? I remember thinking. Am I one of THOSE people? Those crazies? This guy on the phone doesn’t even know me but he sounds so concerned, and he’s also pretty helpful. How did I get here? Is this bad? Is this good? Is this what dad had? Am I really that bad? Mom always said I’m just like Dad…

So many questions flooded my mind during that conversation, and I decided that maybe this was a good thing to happen after all. What that really nice kid on the phone said about choosing to see the positives really stuck with me. I immersed myself in learning about bipolar disorder, watching tons of documentaries and bipolar people talking on youtube. I listened to reviews of whatever she had prescribed me, bupropion, and decided… yeah all of this sounds EXACTLY what I’ve experienced my whole life. I’m probably bipolar after all, and maybe this can help.

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I brought this up to my Aunt Laramee, my dad’s sister. I figured she would tell me the truth, and sure enough I told her about my bipolar and she said my dad had a long history of it. We ended up meeting at the Getty for a really great day of checking out Greek/Egyptian fusion and talking about my dad. His bipolar apparently progressed to schizophrenia at a pretty young age, and it was pretty bad. My aunt said that at one point he was running around the neighborhood naked, screaming in the streets. And once when he got arrested he called and lied to her about seeing someone getting murdered right in front of him. My aunt thinks that an LSD trip he had at a young age did it. Considering I want to do ayahuasca and everyone tells me that it can make bipolar worse or trigger it, I’m assuming LSD could possibly have a similar effect to adolescent or unprepared minds. 

Or maybe it always WAS just his brain chemistry. Who knows, but something pretty cool and hippyish I also learned about my dad is that he lived in a VW van with an older woman who had a kid, taking drugs in the jungles of Mexico. My Aunt Laramee says that my dad always had to experience things, which is also totally how I feel. I’m pretty sure he was an INFP, type 5 enneagram… very feeling and intuitive. That’s where I get it. Although my mom’s superstitious filipino side may lend itself to the intuition as well. Going to the Getty, my aunt brought it up that I’m a fusion just like the exhibit we saw. As I get older, I can’t help but pay more attention to what traits I got from my mom and which ones I got from my dad. Children really are the combination of both… which can be dangerous but also balance out the bad. 

ANYWAY.

My aunt was so glad I told her about my diagnosis, and happy that I did the screenings and was honest about my depression. She convinced me to try the meds, and made me feel better about the whole thing in general. She told me that even my GRANDPA had it. Of course the artists in the family would. But yeah… I remember taking the bupropion for like 2 weeks. I felt like it made me happier like the first 2 days I took it, then I couldn’t really feel it doing anything after that so I eventually just stopped taking it and waited to see the psychiatrist. It wasn’t until May 10 that I was able to get an appointment, and sure enough I was diagnosed as bipolar.

I remember the psychiatrist not being bad at ALL. The office looked normal enough, nothing like the dark, dank brownness of my dad’s psychiatry office I visited as a kid. I’m sure that place was normal enough, but I think it’s been forever corrupted in my mind. The psychiatrist herself was cool… she was just a person who seemed like she wanted to help. I remember talking REALLY fast at the time. After my unofficial diagnosis I became much more aware of my moods, and by the time I saw my psychiatrist I recognized that I was in a full on manic state. She saw it too, and prescribed me an antipsychotic called “Latuda” to hopefully “stabilize” me before I crashed into the typical depression. I was having my bachelorette party that next weekend and was afraid of what the medicine would do to me and if I wouldn’t be myself at the party. She told me to take it anyway. I got the meds the Monday after (the 14th) and went for it.

The medicine BLEW MY MIND but in a different way than marijuana, acid or shrooms. It made me think “is this what my mind is SUPPOSED to be like?” I found my whole perception of time shifting, especially when I took it for the first time at work. Time seemed to move slower, so I didn’t feel as much stress or urgency when trying to finish my assignments. I didn’t feel like the day slipped away from me like I always did, and I felt like I could talk to people without worrying about what they were thinking of me. My anxiety was considerably lowered, I was able to focus, and my negative thoughts were kept at bay. Actually, whenever I HAD a negative thought, it wouldn’t stay around for long because a rational thought would pop up and kick it away. I didn’t even know it was POSSIBLE for my mind to do that! Oh man… those first days of taking Latuda were AMAZING. I remember checking in with Dr Ribaudo too during this first week and she told me I seemed so much more relaxed. “REALLY!?” I said. Maybe this medicine WAS for me!

Being on the Latuda, I was able to be aware of my emotions and separate myself from them enough to take a good look at myself. I started seeing myself as a friend, rather than the “me” that was a failure. For the first time, I felt like I could think good things about myself, as though I was someone I admired. Again… NEVER THOUGHT THIS WAS POSSIBLE FOR MY MIND TO DO. It was amazing! Was this what it felt like to be stable? Normal? My psychiatrist says yes, that most people live in a little box of emotions basically, with their highs and lows being relatively constrained. Whereas bipolar people have CRAZY highs and lows, WAY outside the box! Taking 40mg of the Latuda was perfect, keeping me I feel slightly out of the box, but not by much so I was more stable than I’d ever been! After trying to take 60mg, I experienced that “zombie” feeling of not caring enough about anything to make life just not worth living for me. Eddy said that most people live life more in that state, including him, but man… I just can’t do it. I NEED to care, NEED to FEEL!! Which is why 40mg seemed okay.

But that brings us to today. There are a lot of reasons I stopped taking my meds, but the main one being I just can’t see myself strapped into this rigid schedule of taking my meds with a late late dinner (350 calories at least) and knocking out right after. It just feels so unnatural to me, defies my regular eating patterns, and overall makes me feel trapped. What about those days when I’m out with a friend and need to drive home after dinner? It’s not like I want to wait to take my meds when I get home and eat ANOTHER meal… geez. The food thing really gave me anxiety, and there were some days where I had to cheat and say that I hoped my dinner still soaked up my meds even though it was like 3 hours ago. I just can’t be tied to taking a pill everyday…especially with a certain amount of food.

I also realized that the meds weren’t as mindblowing as when they first were, but if I tried taking a higher dose I would zombie out. I came to understand that even though there are good things about the meds, like getting me on a good sleep schedule for example, maybe it’d be better to try getting those same effects without. I’ve been so observant of my inner landscape this past month that I want to try a little experiment… try to achieve these same mental effects without taking the latuda.

I would much rather live a life where I’m able to control my mood myself rather than relying on drugs for it. As time went on, I also noticed that if I didn’t simultaneously get high during the day, even on 40mg I would basically zombie out and not care about anything. I found this out just 2 days ago when I brought my vape to work but it wasn’t working so I had to go without. WHAT A HORRIBLE DAY! I felt like I could focus, but ultimately that nothing even mattered because I was numb to the world and couldn’t FEEL anything. I thought… do I really need to take this medicine AND get high for THE REST OF MY LIFE to feel ok? NO! I DON’T WANT THAT! I don’t want to feel like the world is meaningless if I forget my vape or run out of my cartridge. Those effects of zombification even bled into yesterday, where I went to a friend’s party and just didn’t care about ANYTHING. I felt like “why am I even here?” and during conversations think “oh.. Well this will at least pass the time so it seems like i’ve been here a while.” I typically ENJOY conversations and hearing people’s stories, which is what makes the world colorful for me on a normal basis. It was so upsetting to just…drift through life.

Since I’ve found out I’m bipolar, I feel like it’s been such a long journey. It’s only been about 2 months and I feel like my growing awareness of how my mind operates has already increased so greatly. But even still, I’m at this point where I already feel like I can’t be on my meds. What about people who have known they were bipolar since they were children? I can’t imagine living my whole life taking these things. I need to see this as an opportunity to stop while I still can, and that’s what I’m doing. Being on Latuda has taught me so much about myself, but I can see there’s SO MUCH MORE to learn. I love the idea of exploring this landscape of my mind in a pure form, and now knowing what my weaknesses are, I can be on the lookout for patterns I’ve always succumbed to in the past.

Finding out that I’m bipolar has changed my life completely, but in the best way possible. In the past year, I’ve been introduced to the in depth analysis of personality tests like the Enneagram and Myers Briggs which have both taught me so much about myself (Type 7/ENFP). After extensive reading on those personality types, being told I’m bipolar doesn’t surprise me much. It also offers me a more refined personality profile. I’m now able to research this disorder to further understand myself in addition to the personality types. However, I know to not use it as a label. Something my psychiatrist says is that she addresses SYMPTOMS in her patients, not the disorder, because everyone is different. I feel fortunate to have been diagnosed at a later age, where I’ve had time to delve into my personality already and don’t need to cling to a label to create an identity based on mental illness. Where I’m at in life, I can only use this information for good 🙂

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been impulsive, enthusiastic, scatterbrained, moody, and very extreme. I’ve wasted tons of money on useless shit and spent years of my life feeling like a failure, so much so that those negative ideas crippled me for what felt like eternity. After essentially isolating myself from the world after my dad died, I’m grateful for those who have stuck by my side and seen my progression over the years. In fact, lately many of my friends have been expressing to me how much better I’ve gotten recently, not even truly knowing the changes I’ve undergone to get here. I always take it as a compliment, but sometimes I think “Wow, was I really that bad?” I especially appreciate my fiance Eddy, and how he literally translated my unintelligible thoughts for me as I was learning to communicate like a functioning human being, with my WORDS rather than grunts, whimpers and whines that represented my feelings.

Being told that I’m bipolar feels like the biggest relief of my LIFE. I feel like a missing puzzle piece has been put in place, and now my personal core struggle has been identified. We all have one, and sometimes if we aren’t sure what it is, we can be left feeling empty… like we need to be moving on some sort of path we can’t see. We as human beings long for balance, but without identifying what needs to be worked on, we’re basically blind. So many things that happen to us as children manifest in mental walls that only solidify with age, and the older you get the stronger you need to become to take down those walls. Since I’ve started dating Eddy, he’s made me really look at myself for what I am. That was over 4 years ago, and now the anger and hate have turned into the need for love and understanding.

I’ve always felt like there’s a beast within me, as many people probably do. I used to feel like darkness was spilling out of my ears, that this beast was setting me on fire, or possessing me to do or think bad things to make me kill myself. It was out of control for SURE, sometimes even making me throw physical tantrums resulting in getting pinned to the ground, throwing things across the room, or screaming at the top of my lungs so that Eddy would worry someone would call the cops. Since I’ve been on the path of self discovery, the beast has become increasingly more and more domesticated, and now I see that all it wants is love.

Something really important that I’ve discovered is that, just like our puppy Han Solo, my inner beast needs to be taken on walks. It needs to be treated with patience as it learns, and be spoken to kindly and lovingly rather than shouted at with disgust. All I was doing before was hating on it, punishing it, screaming at it… I even wanted to KILL it! However, it was all because I felt like it wanted to kill ME. I felt broken for the longest time, different from everyone else, making me lonely and ashamed of being such a failure… but now I know that other people experience this also, and that it’s because of my brain chemistry that I’m like this. I can’t BLAME myself for it. If anything, I finally have to learn how to LOVE myself… and strangely enough i actually feel like that’s happening.

I’m hoping that this blog will serve as an archive of walks with my bipolar beastie. Over time, I’m sure more patterns will emerge to teach me more and more about the lil troublemaker. For the first time in my life I’m learning to embrace it rather than attack or run away screaming. Here’s to embracing your lil beastie as well 😉

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I’m gonna befriend my beastie for the both of us.