Constant Discovery, My New Treatment

On Monday I had a long talk with Jen because I was a crying mess in the 40 Days To Optimal Health group and Red Tent last Friday, plus I missed my appointment with her in the morning because I was so out of it. I’ve been having difficulty planning and teaching my yoga classes while in a depressive low…something I was worried about but didn’t think I’d have to deal with until now because I’m actually in it.

I also had a long talk with her after my ER incident and we talked about meds, and the potentiality of me getting off my meds, but she said she hadn’t actually expected me to. After I was prescribed Lamictal though, I was pretty worried about getting that fatal rash it’s known for because I had already experienced some rare side effect and was afraid that…maybe I’m just unlucky. I don’t want that rash. I also found out that one of my bipolar friends was hospitalized on Lamictal for it making her too manic, and I don’t want that either. Honestly I’m starting to feel in my gut that part of my purpose is to learn how to fight this thing WITHOUT medication. So this was a serious talk on Monday about what she thinks I should do to stabilize myself without it. Thankfully she’s helped a lot of people get off their meds, so she knows what she’s talking about.

She said she wants me in CONSTANT DISCOVERY, and I think it just really hit me what that means. We only grow up once, which is why whatever comes our way we’re doing the best with what we got, cuz no one really knows what they’re doing. It’s all about building experience, and we build experience by going through things, making memories, and storing those memories within our hearts. Whenever we react to something, it’s like an opportunity to really DISCOVER what our past self is trying to tell us about the patterns we have built. Every time we react to something…it’s a chance to get to see ourselves, MEET ourselves, and the person we are becoming. This is what “constant discovery” now means to me, and I’m truly excited to go on this journey. Because it really takes the pressure off.

I see now that before my diagnosis, I was always expecting myself to do something. Be something. Build certain skills. Get certain jobs. Get a certain amount of followers. But these unrealistic expectations kept building and building the pressure until I was crippled and incapacitated beneath it all. I was trying to do too much while trying to “figure out what was wrong with me.” When I was diagnosed, I feel like puzzle pieces started clicking into place, but that was 2 years ago and I feel like I’m still discovering what that diagnosis even means. And I see now that what it really is is an opportunity…this opportunity for discovery, now knowing that I share symptoms with this bipolar population. It’s given me a chance to heal, now knowing roughly what to expect. This hit me today too…this kinda letting go of the pressure I was feeling before…knowing I’m committing to this constant discovery of myself.

As I was walking Han this morning I got choked up walking past Amy’s old apartment and remembering her coming out of her parking lot to pick me up. And I thought about Bre’s text to me yesterday saying she felt “haunted” and she proceeded to tell me her memories of when we saw this amazing meteor shower a couple years ago. When I was hit with these memories this morning I realized that this is how it is…we collect memories and they come up and affect us when we least expect it. Not even bad memories…but good ones. They remind us of what we perceive as “better times” even though we’re always struggling…there’s a melancholy to them…this simultaneous joy that it happened, but sadness that it’s over, and that’s just the existence we face. It made me even sadder this morning thinking of that…missing the past…and realizing that everyone feels this way. But that’s when this constant discovery really hit home for me…this “only growing up once.” When I was really manic in my early 20s life was a blur…my whole 5 year college relationship I can barely even remember. It’s now that I’m really choosing to commit to this form of self treatment, self discovery, that I’m allowing to slow down to see how these memories actually affected me. Changed me. And created patterns within me that affect how I live today.

Jen also mentioned pattern disruption, which is basically just rewiring your brain. Choosing to do something different when you can catch that you’re doing the same thing you normally do. So she told me when I start to isolate myself that I really need to reach out to my community…say that I’m starting to enter a low or high and get support for it. Enter a conversation about what it actually means, where it’s actually coming from…like detective work to really get to know myself, rather than falling completely in the hole and starting to wallow.

This is gonna be really difficult, cuz it’s going against my natural instincts. But if it means really getting to know myself and I can frame it in that way…it actually sounds pretty cool and interesting. It’s like getting to know a new friend 🙂 It’s a constant unfolding, and the more I embrace this, the more my brain patterns will shift…the key is patience, consistency and commitment. In this same vein I’m choosing to commit to more consistent journaling and I’m gonna try and rewire my art habits…get used to expressing myself and my emotions…using it as an outlet. It actually makes me nauseous just thinking about how tough that’s gonna be but that’s why I gotta do it. Sigh 😦 It’s what I’ve been avoiding for years…but that means it’ll be worth it. There are probably a lot of answers waiting for me in my art.

Constant discovery right?

This Is About Trust

So far, being off meds for me is about trust. You have to recognize that you’re in a depressive low, accept that this is just part of you, and learn how to be ok with it. Don’t allow the negative thoughts to take over, like “I’m never gonna finish that thing I’m working on!” Because even though it seems so simple…that’s referencing the FUTURE. And the future is ALWAYS unknown. We think by worrying, we’re predicting some terrible outcome to prevent that outcome actually happening. Isn’t that psychotic?

Rather than do that, we gotta just live in the present. And listening to your intuition is SO important because THAT’S what you have to trust. First of all, if you know that worrying so much about a thing will help you get it done, then you WILL get it done. So why not just take out the worrying and live in the present, enjoying life instead?! Just TRUST that everything will be ok. Because it will be. It’s ridiculous.

I feel like I’ve somehow known all of this for a while but am also just learning it now.

Today I was relaxing in the park looking around at people also relaxing at the park…just literally sitting there and doing nothing…and I’m like “why did I always think every single person around me was doing such amazing things everyday?” My jealousy and FOMO used to be the WORST! It really is only now because of the quarantine that I’m realizing that I actually CAN be satisfied with my life.

I was telling Eddy that being home so much reminds me of being a kid before I knew how to drive. I used to be frustrated at how distracted I was by the world and people around me saying “I wish I could go to back to before I had any friends!” Simply meaning…to a simpler time when I felt less obligations to the people around me. THIS IS IT. And it really isn’t bad. I’m learning so much about myself and realizing…all of this is an EXPERIENCE!! So why not savor that experience? That’s what I’m trying to do now, and my old self is slightly resisting but not by much…

I feel like I’m about to evolve. Hopefully.

One Day At A Time — 50 First Dates

Just watched 50 First Dates because I’m trying to learn how to relax and give myself time to just do things that I enjoy.

Today I had a long conversation with Mary where we talked so much about mental health. I’ve never been able to talk to anyone so candidly about it other than Eddy, so it was refreshing. I cried a lot but was able to release a lot too.

I forgot exactly what I said to her, but it showed her that I was really building awareness with my behavior and really starting to understand that I was born being the way that I am…and that’s ok. It just means I have to live WITH it, because it’s not going anywhere. I have to learn to WALK WITH IT. I can’t let it overtake me. I have to separate it. Be NEXT to it.

What struck me with 50 First Dates today is that, when Henry starts making Lucy the videos to remind her what happened every morning, she has to WAKE UP EVERY MORNING and ACCEPT that about herself. Accept this horrible truth that her brain is broken from an accident…and I feel like that’s basically the truth for all of us. Yes I seem to have this “condition,” but we ALL have our own inner demons that we wrestle with everyday. And we have to accept that about ourselves and CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT. EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s rough…and I guess some days will be tougher than others…but that’s really the only choice we have.

This movie really gets me.

Going to The ER For Tardive Dyskinesia – Off Meds Again

Last week on July 15 (wow it was only last week?! Feels like an eternity…) I went to the ER for what I THOUGHT was a panic attack, but it turns out was actually a really messed up side effect of the meds (Latuda 60mg) that I was on. Been off it since, and feeling pretty good! Today is my first mild depressive episode but it’s not so bad 🙂

Anyway, this is what happened. Around 9pm on July 15 I took the Latuda and almost immediately felt like something had shifted within me — it came with dizziness and blurred vision. About a week leading up to this, I’d felt pretty off when I took the meds, but brushed it off as drowsiness that was common with the Latuda and would just immediately go to sleep.

I tried doing the same that night, but when I lay down, I could tell something was very wrong. I can’t really explain it but my perception had totally shifted and I felt like I was in a void. The shadows in the room looked off in a strange way which freaked me out, I didn’t feel comfortable breathing to calm myself down, and the worst part about it was that MY EYELIDS HAD STARTED SHAKING and just wouldn’t stop, making sleep (and even meditation) impossible. I lay there trying to calm myself down for about an hour, hoping the eyelid shake would go away, hoping I would drift off to sleep somehow, but then my arms and legs started to shake too and I was WAY too uncomfortable. My thought patterns were off too… I wondered if it was anxiety but my mind was like void of thoughts…I was freaking out but felt it in my BODY…hard to describe, but I was scared. I wondered if I was having a psychotic episode. I wondered if I would be like this forever. I wondered if I would die.

Finally I decided to get up and tell Eddy about it, and he immediately thought it was an anxiety attack. When I tried to talk to him I realized I couldn’t speak correctly, and it was hard to walk because everything was shaking and I felt so restless. I told him it might be a side effect of the medication, and he helped me induce vomiting to try and get the medicine out of my system. When I didn’t feel better afterwards, I agreed with him that it must be anxiety, and he tried putting a movie on to calm me down. It was impossible to focus my eyes on anything though, and the “void” feeling within me was so disconcerting I couldn’t help feeling hopeless.

After about 3 hours of Eddy trying to calm me down, me going back and forth from trying to throw up, to my room to try and sleep, and back out to just be around Eddy because I was so upset, nothing got better. It was like a bad trip, but WORSE because I HONESTLY DIDN’T KNOW IF IT WOULD EVER END. Trips have arcs, but this was just the SAME for HOURS. Eventually I said we needed to go to the ER because I knew I needed to go to sleep and as long as my eyes and body were shaking I wouldn’t be able to.

The ER of course had no idea what was wrong with me, but wrote it off as anxiety and after X-Raying my chest and testing my heart with everything normal, they gave me an Atavan to sedate me THANK GOD. It was torture going to the ER with COVID going on right now, and having to wait while my whole body was shaking and I was in a strange pulsating blurry void. Thankfully it worked and I was able to go to sleep. I still felt a little weird the next day and for the next couple days, but I had mostly reset.

This whole experience was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever gone through, because somewhere deep in my heart I felt like it was never going to end. Even though Eddy and the ER said it was anxiety, I also somehow knew that it was most likely the meds. I immediately got off of them because I was so afraid of it happening again, but also avoided looking up side effects because I was so shaken… A couple days later when I thought about going on my meds again and finally looked it up.

“High doses or long-term use of lurasidone (Latuda) can cause a serious movement disorder that may not be reversible. Symptoms of this disorder include uncontrollable muscle movements of your lips, tongue, eyes, face, arms, or legs. The longer you take lurasidone, the more likely you are to develop a serious movement disorder.”

I saw this and got SO UPSET. “A serious movement disorder that may not be reversible”?!?! So I COULD’VE TOTALLY BEEN STUCK THAT WAY!! Upon looking into it further, I found out that antipsychotics cause this condition called “tardive dyskinesia” which causes involuntary movements in your body…EXACTLY what I was experiencing. When I talked to my psychiatrist, she said it used to be more common with older antipsychotics and it’s rarer with Latuda because it’s newer. So that’s why she didn’t TELL ME?! There’s a huge problem when this has been a common occurrence with this medicine which I read, tends to happen typically after being on it for 3 months.

Why, after 3 months, does it become more common to develop tardive dyskinesia?! THIS SHIT IS SOOOO DANGEROUS!! I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAS EVEN TAKING IT!! If I had been on that medication longer (this was the first time I had stuck with it consistently for 5 months), it more likely WOULD’VE been permanent! The thought of being STUCK that way is completely TERRIFYING!! I’m so grateful it happened to me early on, almost as if to say “get off this shit, it’s BAD for you.”

NO ONE SHOULD TAKE LATUDA. IT IS DANGEROUS.

But I suppose any pharmaceutical drugs are dangerous…which is why these side effects even exist. It’s so sad that we live in a world we do many people have to take these dangerous things, in many cases having to actually LIVE with these horrible side effects in order to control their mind. It pisses me off really… this MODERN WORLD. So many people are suffering!!

I used to think I was invincible, that side effects would never happen to me. Which is partly why I didn’t really take them seriously. Yes I looked up the side effects when I started Latuda, but didn’t think much of them because I figured they wouldn’t affect me. I was wrong. And I’ve learned an important lesson. Even looking at the rest of the side effects…that night I experienced so many of them:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • shaking
  • muscle stiffness
  • mask-like facial expression
  • inability to keep still
  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • blurred vision
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, sweating, confusion, tremors, feeling like you might pass out, or
  • twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs

NEVER AGAIN.

After I spoke to my psychiatrist about this she prescribed me Lamictal, but honestly I don’t want to be on meds anymore. Yes my depression and suicidal ideation can get pretty bad and I can have rapid cycling mood swings. Although it’s hard to deal with, I feel like it’s not NECESSARY for me to be on meds…especially because now I’m just so damn scared of them.

This trip to the ER dramatically shifted something in me. It felt like a sign of a death that needed to happen. Originally Eddy was telling me he thought it was anxiety because there was so much going on in my life.

I finished my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program online last month, and because I was having a hard time balancing working from home in quarantine, and because I had taken on 2 life coaching clients and wanted to focus on art and my comic, I had decided I no longer wanted to certify to become a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. However, I did so well in my practicum during our last session that Jen told me to reconsider certifying. I did for a moment, but backed out again when we were supposed to pick our time slots, and this time Mary tried convincing me to do it. At this point I could tell maybe this was just an old pattern of me trying to run away out of fear and avoidance, and since I had been doing this program for 10 months, sure I might as well do it.

But agreeing to design 6 classes to get up and teach sent me into manic “final exam” mode, and not only that I got way too excited about trying to launch my brand/healing program “Hasthira” with the onset of my classes. This meant me trying to get a flyer done along with a website, of which I had none of the art I wanted to do completed. I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself, the pressure I was putting on myself…that was all just coming from me. I succumbed to really unhealthy habits of trying to do way too much, so really this incident seemed like it was trying to also teach me to learn how to chill out, rest and take care of myself. Before I found out about tardive dyskinesia, I was even wondering if it was a cause of the meds suppressing my mania that was activated by all the work I had to do. But now I see that…yeah maybe this all happened as a sign from the universe to A) Stop pressuring myself so much and B) Get off the meds.

When I recounted all of this to yoga mama Jen at our sound lesson last Sunday, she gave me a wonderful exercise about dealing with pressure. She told me to get all of that pressure out on paper, and have that physical representation of it so that whenever I feel the pressure, to look at that paper and know it’s THERE, not inside me — to separate myself from it in that way. I haven’t done it yet because breaking down to Jen really felt like the release I needed to get rid of it, at least in that moment.

Jen also told me that she helps people get off their meds, and that if I really wanna get off, I need to become really aware of all my mood changes and behaviors, to know how to handle them when they come up. She also told me I need to really watch my diet, because bad food like junk and fast food will flare up the mood shifts, so she suggested doing her 40 Days To Optimal Program for the second time, which I AM doing. She also said if it gets bad again, she has supplements to give me that she thinks might help. It was so amazing to get this type of support…and I feel really good about doing this.

I started this blog because I didn’t want to be on meds, and I wanted to become more aware of my moods, to do just what Jen was talking about. So much has happened since then, and this Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program has really changed my life in ways I could’ve never expected. It’s shown me how important Kundalini Yoga is in my life — how it has helped me reconnect to myself and find a middle ground and stillness within me that I never thought was possible. If I’m vigilant about my practice, no matter what mood I’m in…I know I’ll be ok. The program has also shown me the importance of community, and what a great community even looks like. Through The Yogi Tree I’ve found my tribe — Jen has really cultivated a beautiful safe space where it’s okay to be vulnerable, where you can experience the waves of life and express them and be loved and accepted for it…having a space like that has truly changed my life, and I wish everyone could experience something similar, especially those struggling with mental health.

This post is already a novel,but again this was long overdue. I’m so grateful for this quarantine space to do the work I’m doing, and so grateful that I am still alive and well after such a terrifying incident. Upon reading reviews of Latuda, I’ve found tons of similar accounts, and my heart goes out to everyone suffering from these horrific side effects just to try and get by in this world. Really hoping these alternatives I’ve found work for me in the long run…gonna make a deeper effort than I ever have.

Side note: I taught my first Kundalini Yoga class yesterday for certification! 5 more to go!! 😀 I was so manic trying to prepare and write the series, and it was such a high to finish teaching my first one that today I’m experiencing a crash from it…but it’s not so bad. Just gonna try and take it easy, which is hard for me to do. But I’m determined to learn how to relax! Survival depends on it!

Anyway, here’s the flyer with details for my online Kundalini classes, just in case you’re interested! I live in Southern California so the time zone is PST!

Confessions From Quarantine 05

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This project has been so organic for me that I’m constantly making realizations about what to do with it WHILE I’m doing it. I wonder if that’s how it is to do personal work and I just haven’t done it for so many years that I forgot? Haha anyway, so much of this time away from social media has been spent consuming other media, which has given me insight and solace into how I am as a person. As much as I wanted to quit doing art so many times, taking IN art reminded me why it’s so important… it makes you realize that all these stories come from a real place. Because they exist means that someone somewhere has felt similar things and they thought it important enough to include it in a show, movie, book, whatever. As I think of the ones that have really stood out and helped me make sense of my situation, I wanna put them in here for my future self to remember that I’m not alone, that I HAVE learned these lessons before.

As a kid I’d watch so much TV, which influenced my love for TV and movies as an adult. But strangely enough it wasn’t until I lost my dad that I started to look for the MEANING behind things. Prior to that I was always using it as a distraction, or a way to drown out my own emotions. Even though I worked in animation, I realized I hadn’t been fully appreciating the art form until this tragedy hit in my life that forced me to look for answers in the world around me, and slowly they started appearing everywhere. Story and metaphor are such amazing tools to aid in our own development if try to see what they’re actually trying to tell us. The shitty thing though is that I have a really bad memory and tend to learn more from FEELING rather than THINKING, so documenting these things really helps retain what I’ve learned.

Tiny Rickkk!!

The Avatar clip about fire ended up getting taken off Youtube, but here’s a great music video that talks about both the positives and negatives about fire which… is really relatable for bipolar in my opinion :\