fireez: (Misc - sanity via plotbunny)
"No interactions with lamictal", it said on the tin.

And then my new blood results are back and my level has dropped back to sub-effective levels. Goddammit.

I'm going to get another blood test done on Monday, to check if that one wasn't a fluke, but it looks like I might have to go off the pill again. Because it might be fucking with my lamictal levels and that can be dangerous. Great. And I can't just up the lamictal dose because then it might overshoot when I'm in the week where I don't take the contraceptive.

Yes, being on meds is a good thing. But it can also be a pain in the ass because you have to check and double check EVERYTHING for interactions. Hell, eating grapefruit can throw my levels off.

Pharmacology is a bitch. And it's a bitch I'll have to live with until I either die or they come up with a better medication for bipolar II. Seeing how much research is being done in that direction, I'm steeling myself for another 40+ years of this. -_-
fireez: (Avatar - Aang meditating)
Stats under the cut ;) )
I'm trying a new approach this time. Instead of writing from start to finish, I'm doing some important scenes, things I already have mapped in my head, first. Pretty much in random order. I have the beginning, I have the end, now I'm doing some points inbetween. And then I'll play connect the dots. Put some flesh on the bones. I'm hoping that this will keep me from losing steam too early in the game. And I kind of like first person POV. It's great for rambling, heh.

Also, I've been happy the last two days. Really, genuinely happy. I haven't felt this way in a long time. Part of it is being on vacation and being able to de-stress, but a lot of it is also down to me writing. Because writing makes me happy. Sure, sometimes, when I have a block or don't know how to go on with the story, it's frustrating. But overall, it's the one thing that gives me balance. It makes me feel alive, healthy, myself.

I'm immensely relieved, too. See, I was afraid that due to being on meds, my creativity would die. That it would vanish along with my episodes. And for some time, that really seemed to be the case. I haven't written anything much in months. But it didn't die. It's still here, and it doesn't need extreme moods to surface. What it does need, though, is energy. And well, first there was school, then there was the breakdown, and then I had so much fucking stress at work that I was basically dead inside. There wasn't enough energy left for this kind of self-care. For me, just doing normal shit is really hard at times. Turn up the heat, and I'm burning mental, emotional and physical energy at the rate a hummingbird burns sugar.

It feels so good to finally feel like myself again.

fireez: (FMA - Transmutation circle)
Today is World Mental Health Day. Most people probably don't even know it exists. Hell, I didn't, either. But I think it's important to talk about mental illness, and not just because I have one.

Mental illness needs to be de-mystified. It needs to be taken seriously, and at the same time, the misinformation, fear and hysterics about it need to stop. And that can only be achieved through communication and advocacy.

I have bipolar II. I wasn't diagnosed until about a year ago, but I've had it for a long time, probably 15, 20 years. Yes, this means that I've been running around with a chronic mental illness for half my life. Now, bipolar II is a bitch to diagnose. It usually takes 10 years or more until it's properly diagnosed, because unlike bipolar I, it doesn't get these really really obvious manic episodes. I get hypomanic episodes, which aren't as obvious to outsiders. Those who really know me well might notice them, but otherwise, it's something that's more on the inside. And while parts of them are fun (hello, increased creativity and high mood!), other parts are horrible (hello, racing thoughts and increased anxiety and aggression!). The depression was, and is, more visible. Which is why it got diagnosed first. That, and the anxiety. It took me actually going to a therapist who worked with me for 1,5 years until a proper diagnosis was made.

So why did I wait so long before going to a therapist? The answer is pretty simple: stigma. In my mind, and that of a lot of other people, if you see a therapist - that means something is seriously wrong with you. And I didn't want to be "seriously wrong". Of course, that's bullshit. Therapy is a great tool for getting mentally and emotionally stable, and it doesn't mean you're some kind of loon. It just means that there is something in your life that you need help with. But I've always had problems with admitting that I need help. Because it meant that I was weak, that I wasn't strong, smart, good enough to work this out on my own. Because it meant that something was wrong with my brain.

The last one is actually accurate. There is something wrong with my brain. So far, science has only the most rudimentary of clues as to what it actually is. Something to do with neurotransmitters and the way my brain processes stuff. Basically, I have a kind of diabetes of the brain. But for some reason, people with diabetes don't get the same looks I get.

No, I'm not some psycho who will kill you when you're not looking. I'm not a danger to anyone other than maybe myself (the suicide rate for bipolar II is sometimes put as high as 50%. Makes you wonder why there isn't more money invested in finding out what exactly causes it, or into researching drugs that aren't basically hit and miss). Also, no, I can't infect you with the crazy. Well, unless you're related to me, since this is hereditary (which btw does not mean that this is my parents', or anyone else's, fault). No, you don't have to treat me with kiddie gloves. Or like I'm an imbecile, because I'm not. Being bipolar does not lower my IQ in any way. Most of the time, I'm perfectly functional.

But just like a person with diabetes, there's certain things I have to do to stay that way. I take medication, I adjust my lifestyle. Diabetics stay away from sugar more than non-diabetics, I stay away from stress more than neurotypicals. Diabetics have to monitor their blood sugar to anticipate an episode, I have to monitor my moods. Stuff like that.

Also, like diabetes, this does not go away with willpower, or by ignoring it. I don't have this to "get attention" or "because I'm too fragile" or because "it's all in my head" (well ok this in in my head, but not in the I'm just imagining it sense). So please don't say that to me, it's insulting. In fact, please don't say that to anyone with a mental disorder, regardless if it's permanent like mine or only temorary.

Don't just shuffle people away or silence them because they make you uncomfortable. Seriously, how do you think we feel? We've got enough on our plates without the rest of the world giving us the side-eye all the time.

Be supportive. When we talk about our illness, listen. Don't question our treatments, because if you're not a professional or someone with personal experience, you have no idea what works and what doesn't. Don't presume you know how we feel. If you want to know what it's like, ask. Cut us some slack now and then, because for us crazies, life is just that little bit more difficult than it is for everyone else.

One last thing: 12 to 18% of the world's population will suffer from an episode of depression over the course of their life. 5% of the population will suffer from bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia: 0.7%. Anxiety disorder: 14-18%. Personality disorders: 9%. Etc, etc. Bottom line is that about 1 in 3 people will suffer from a mental disorder at some point in their life. Keep that in mind, and "normal" kind of loses its relevance.

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fireez

June 2014

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