December 13, 2015

Mushrooms and paper clips

(In which the family freaks out)

Last Sunday we thought Phillip had eaten part of a mushroom in the back yard.  Mary found remnants of a mushroom that looked like it had been chewed up.  So we were pretty sure he had at least put it in his mouth and those fragments did not make an entire mushroom.

December 9, 2015

New work laptop paranoia

I haven't mentioned this yet, but the company I have worked at for ten years just got acquired by a much bigger company.  I went to Colorado for an orientation for two days.  I've had to take training courses on company harassment policy, security policy, etc.

I had to trade in my old laptop and was issued a laptop that has an encrypted hard drive.  I am unable to install any personal unapproved software which means I can't install MediaMonkey which is my favorite music player.  Even worse, after reviewing their crazy long security policy I found that I can't even store "personal entertainment files" which includes music.  How am I supposed to stay upbeat about my job without music to listen to?

What's worse is that the company has the right to scan my computer at any time to insure that I am complying with the security policy.  So now I'm paranoid they are tracking every keystroke, every website I visit, every piece of software.... everything.  Paranoia is a fantastic thing to experience on the job.  I call bullshit.

December 6, 2015

Home with Phillip

Jacob and Mary went to a rollerskating birthday party.  Neither of us wanted to chase Phillip around a roller skating rink so I stayed home with him.  I could see him running out onto the rink, ignoring everyone else, and really getting hurt.

After a lunch of grilled cheese and Cool Whip for dessert (this is not your child) I put Phillip "down for a nap".  This means turning the light off, singing a song, locking the door, and hoping he falls asleep.  If he gets upset or is still not asleep after 30-45 minutes we let him out.

I imagine the idea of putting a child in a locked room for nap and at night sounds pretty monstrous.  It might even be illegal?  If so, hopefully law enforcement has better things to do.  A few years ago I would have agreed such a thing made me a hideous parent.  I probably would have denied I would ever do such a thing.  We did not do such things with Jacob.  We repeatedly took him back to bed when it was time for a nap.  We had a baby gate but did not lock the door at night.  But Phillip is a different child.  There are huge safety concerns during the night.  He might leave his bedroom and could go any number of places.  He can climb over the counter and get into the kitchen if you're not watching.  He might even have an idea of how to get the door to the garage open but doesn't want to really go through it in case we catch him.  So in the middle of the night, with plenty of time, without us watching, there is no way of knowing what he might try or what he is already capable of.  If he got out of the house, he is determined to make it to the neighbor's pool.  He got out the front door once and ran straight to their gate.

November 26, 2015

Daily prompt - I have confidence in me

(In which I contemplate how bad I am at my job)

The prompt is
Are you good at what you do?  What would you like to be better at?
I'm a "software developer" which sounds to me like a pompous sort of job description.  When people ask what I do for a living I tell them I'm a "programmer".  Perhaps that's a bit outdated, but at least it's one word.

November 25, 2015

Second sleep

(In which I wonder about blue light and its effect on my sleep)

Chasing Phillip around bounce houses for 80 minutes this afternoon utterly exhausted me.  Came home and drifted off for thirty minutes.  Made it past his bedtime and fell asleep again at 8:30.  Awake at 11:30 and now I'm in the recently familiar conundrum... I've had 3-4 hours of sleep but still need to go back to bed.  I'm not tired so that may be tough.

November 23, 2015

My manic lamp

(In which I reflect on mania)

This is my version of a magic lamp.  My manic lamp.

I've had one long lasting mania with euphoria, grandiosity, distractibility, sleeplessness, and heightened activity.  It was immediately after Jacob.  That's the one I ended up hospitalized for and getting my diagnosis.

November 20, 2015

Daily Prompt - It builds character

Wasn't sure what to write today so went here to get an idea of something to write.  The topic for today is: "Tell us about a favorite character from film, theater, or literature, with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?"  Going to bend the rules here.  I am almost done reading An Unquiet Mind and although Kay Jamison is not a character but a real person, I'd love a heart-to-heart with her.
She is co-author of the standard text on bipolar, has tons of clinical experience, and has bipolar herself.  She has experienced so much and sounds like a fascinating person to talk to.  How awesome would it be to have her do a full case history of me?  I bet she'd have some real insights about therapy and possible ways to change my medication. 

Image credit wikimedia

November 19, 2015

Ants as symbols of productivity and little sleep

(In which insect infestation makes me thoughtful)

Coming into work today (walking into the home office room) there were ants at my office desk, behind my keyboard.  I don't really eat in front of the computer, so I'm not sure what was attracting them.  I had seen one or two before, but now there was an entire trail.

Kevin Hines

(In which I get blown away)

I recently went to see Kevin Hines in person.  An article here gives a good summary of his story.  Disclaimer: His story is very emotional.  Read the article and this blog post with caution as it deals with suicide.

November 17, 2015

31 days of bipolar meme

This is the 31 day bipolar meme created by theblahpolar It's a long post...

1. What flavor of bipolar are you? What does your diagnosis mean to you?
Bipolar I.  As I understand it's supposed to mean I have full blown manic episodes (as opposed to hypomania) and that I may have several.  Which means I might stay less time in bipolar depression.  Since I have had only one full blown manic episode after my first son was born, I tend to doubt the diagnosis a bit.  Even though just one manic episode is enough to "qualify" you for bipolar I.  I spend most of my time in depression.  If it weren't for paying the price of mania (plummeting to a long lasting depression), I sometimes think I wouldn't mind some more up times.

November 16, 2015

Telling off my counselor

So I couldn't take it today. It has been a long time since I saw my counselor.  Given recent difficulties I had made an appointment.  As silly as it sounds, it was because I did not make my next appointment back in April. Without that future appointment, I just don't call back.

I was supposed to show up at 9:00 AM.  Twenty minutes later and I'm still in the waiting room.  I told the receptionist it was ridiculous and I was out of there.  He called immediately later to apologize and the call went really well.  I had been letting it build up for some time.  Our appointments typically started at fifteen after.

November 15, 2015

Work merger

So wow, this Friday there was a company webinar revealing that after 13 years the company I work for is merging with a much larger company.  I have one week to decide if I want to continue my job with that company.  I was so stressed out I could barely make it through the day.  I walked away from work at like 3:30.

The things I am grateful for
  1. I still have my job!
  2. I don't have to move to another city where there is an office.  I still get to telecommute.
  3. My salary did not change.
  4. I did not lose vacation days, I actually gained vacation days.

The big unknown is health insurance.  Phillip (my four year old with autism) goes to therapy four times a week for almost five hours a week.  It's not clear if we will have to reduce his therapy.  Also my drugs are not exactly cheap.  They are luckily all generic at this point, but I don't know what the expense will be there either.

I really don't have much of a choice.  I've got to continue working for the new company.  In this town there's no way I could make the same salary as I do now.  We would have to move which is just way too much stress.  Service for Phillip are decent, I don't want to remove Jacob from his school, and our families are here.

Ultimately it's a huge unknown now on the horizon.  Does it mean may more job security and a company insulated from turns in the economy?  Probably.  But we'll see what it's actually going to be like!

November 11, 2015

Use of images

Wow so I'm only a few posts in and I'm glad I checked on how to use images.  I found this blog post concerning fair use where an author got into legal hot water for using an image that was not hers.

My header used to have the image of the flying phonograph from Neutral Milk Hotel, but I am definitely removing it pronto!

November 10, 2015

New light box

I broke down and got a light box as the time change seems to be influencing me somewhat as far as energy levels and concentration.  I wasn't sure which model to get but asked on a CrazyTalk forum and someone recommended the Verilux 10,000 so it's now sitting to the side of my computer.  It's a bit pricey but I wasn't confident about some of the cheaper models.

So far it seems to be making a slight difference but it's only day four.  I've worked up to about 45 minutes.  It isn't triggering any mania.  I think it is helping a little with my energy level.  Yesterday I tried to take a lunch nap and was just unable to fall asleep.  I had done it out of habit and not really from a low energy level (bed does feel nice after all).  It doesn't seem to be helping with me being so prone to distraction and having trouble concentrating.  I see that as a symptom of depression and anxiety right now.

November 6, 2015

Work, distractibility, and mood fluctuations

The last eleven days at work have been extremely difficult for two reasons.

First and foremost, my moods seem all over the place.  Honestly I can’t tell what I’m feeling half the time.  In the morning my mood is high and I’m extremely distractible.  So it’s very difficult to stay focused and concentrate on work.  At some point in the afternoon my outlook and energy plummet.  This may be related to me taking 30 minute “lunch naps” which are almost always a bad idea.  Toward the end of the day I usually panic as I’m certain I didn’t get enough done that day.  Finally, by evening I feel restless, hopeless, irritable, and agitated.  Nothing seems to help this.  I end up leaving the house to go to Target to buy odds and ends we don’t desperately need.  Scratch off lottery tickets are usually a purchase.  I’m worried I’m replacing the attempt to self-medicate with alcohol with the compulsion to gamble.

Second, I think my supervisor’s opinion of me might be slipping because of another much more ambitious worker who is on our team.  He is knowledgeable in areas I’m not, assertive with other co-workers, and organized.  I find his attitude abrasive.  As usual with someone who I perceive as aggressive I do not assert myself.  I think this looks bad to my supervisor, like me deferring to my co-worker’s expertise and therefore not looking nearly as strong.  Of course, working from home, I have no idea how much of this is just in my head.  All this contributes greatly to my anxiety.  The anxiety in turn makes me restless, hopeless I’ll catch up.  All of my efforts and obligations just seem so stupid.  Feeling like I’m not measuring up also creates anxiety about my job security and how I will provide for my family if I got laid off.  I feel like I have “high salary handcuffs” in that we have a standard of living that requires my salary (if not more).  I’m trying to chunk away at our credit card debt and thus we live paycheck to paycheck.

October 13, 2015

Mixed state and medication update

Still quite jumpy and jittery as get back to work.  Sunday was very tiring.  I had about a thirty minute crying spell, felt exhausted, depressed, but antsy and restless at the same time.  It felt like maybe I was having a mixed state episode.  It was very unpleasant.

Monday I saw my psychiatrist and have moved Abilify up to 5 mg (from 2) and Cymbalta down to 90 mg (from 120).  Personally I suspect the Cymbalta is too high and will be happy to see it go down to 60.  But need to go slowly.

Tuesday I'm feeling a little better.  Less jittery.  Still apprehensive about my work trip next week and the work related tasks I need to get done before the trip.

October 12, 2015

What depression feels like to me

(In which I go on and on trying to come up with lame metaphors for depression)
I’m not sure anyone has ever asked me what my “brand” of depression feels like.  Upon first reading that, I imagine it might sound lonesome or unbelievable, but there are two valid reasons.  First, I have frequently described it to those close to me.  Second, on a sad note, others who are close to me already know what depression feels like since they have experienced it firsthand (my mom, dad, and brother).

October 8, 2015

Hypomania off the alcohol?

I stopped drinking 10 days ago.  I firmly believe it has been a destructive and unpredictable drug, affecting my sleep, nutrition, mood, and psychiatric medications.  Reading this thread has helped convince me it is truly a bad idea for bipolar -- Don't Mix Alcohol & Meds  I'm going to do my absolute best to stop it completely.  So far it has not been easy.  Alcohol has been a habit, something I do at night, and a go-to coping mechanism.

Last week I was depressed which I chalked up to a stomach bug.  I think getting over the illness, stopping alcohol, and difficult work stress has bounced me too high and I am borderline hypomanic now.  Perhaps it's some other reason, but either way I think it's happening.

Signs I might be hypomanic

  1. Unable to concentrate on work.  Very distractable.
  2. Waking early (even though do go back to sleep eventually)
  3. Increased interest in sex
  4. Increased activity (reading about medication, blogging)
  5. Doing tasks have put off for a long time
  6. Increased speech
  7. Elevated mood
  8. Doing more housework
Complicating factor is I go to see my psychiatrist tomorrow.  How much are the last two weeks relevant?  Talking with Mary this morning we agreed I should not change my medicine drastically before my work trip.  

Overall, things do not look good for me accomplishing much at work.  Which of course ups the anxiety.  Hoping some of this evens out...

September 30, 2015

Alcohol, energy, and agitation

Today I returned to my serious worrying about my drinking.  What effect is it having on me?  I realize it's really stupid given all the medication I'm on.  But ever since my brother died it's become more and more of a habit, drinking probably 5 nights a week.

This is what happened last few days
    Saturday - drank
    Sunday - felt OK, didn't drink
    Monday - felt very down, hard to concentrate, didn't drink
    Tuesday - felt very down, hard to concentrate, drank
    Wednesday - feel better, little easier to concentrate

Even someone with no mental illness and not taking any 'crazy' drugs, if they drank like me, it would probably start to affect their moods.  What if not drinking makes me more agitated because my body has grown dependent on it?  What if I need to drink to feel better the next day?  

Today I have still had problems concentrating and staying on task.  Some real agitation and anxiety are breaking through.  It sometimes feels hard to take a full breath, like I'm forgetting to breathe.

September 29, 2015

Neutral Milk Hotel

It's hard to know where I'd be without ever listening to the album "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel.  What a joyful yet heart-breaking circus of an album.

It has been such a salve throughout the years.  Often filling me with gratitude and appreciation of my world.  Often bringing me to tears as the sadness and pressures that are barely in control break through.  These burst to the surface as Jeff Mangum earnestly sings the breathtaking lyrics. Poetic images and words that remain impenetrable to me in their meaning.  Yet I cannot imagine a single word being different.

It is like an unpolished gem only half visible that you never want to completely uncover.  You experience a raw beauty even though it remains in the surrounding stone.  Its true value incalculable.  It can only be imagined.  Somehow a perfection impossible for the finest cut diamonds to attain.

September 28, 2015

The common cold

Depression is sinking in.  As bipolar II this is mostly what I experience.

The 'usual suspects'

  • Stopped helping out with dishes
  • Haven't shaved, showered, or brushed teeth
  • Motivation and discipline at work completely fallen off.  Got very little done yesterday.
  • No energy
  • Sleeping too much

Today is Friday.  I missed my Abilify 2 mg last Friday-Monday.  Just from stupidly not picking it up from the pharmacy.  When I took it Tuesday I thought I felt an immediate lift.  Mary thinks missing those days explains my feeling down now but I am a bit skeptical.  Abilify seems to work very quickly and I would expect I would bounce back.

I think it's more likely that I started to get sick on Thursday, a nasty cold.  Can feeling bad physically really trigger such a sinking?  I'm not sure.  I certainly do feel tired from it.  And it's hard to focus at work.  Not getting much done at work then triggers feelings of guilt which then feeds into more avoidance behavior.

September 22, 2015


(In which I try to sound interesting)

It's hard to begin anything like this without getting over the feelings of being pretentious, self-indulgent, and silly.

The question is why to write a blog and send it out to the ether?  I guess my ultimate (and possibly self-important) wish is that I could write something that would be found and resonate with someone like me.  But I'll try to accept that will likely not happen.