The scene -
I came home from a detox class at my local health food store an hour ago.
I still have on my Martha Stewart-like quilted jacket.
I'm on my couch covered in an afghan that I made for my mom in 1983.
It's my comfort blanket.
I take it to the dentist with me often, for reals.
The laptop is almost burning my legs, and the tears are about to burn my eyes.
If you only know how badly I really wanted to just sweep this under the rug - but I feel that I'm supposed to share this journey - this brokenness - lest anyone else is going through it and feels alone.
With a buildup like that - you may be disappointed by the time you finish reading this.
Similar to a movie that ends is a most ridiculous way after you've invested one and a half hours of your life into it!
Before I delve into it - I just wanted to thank you for all the lovely comments from my last post! I really am having the time of my life - being stretched in so many ways - using all of my talents, honing new ones, and learning to ask for help for the things I just can't figure out!
Aaron IS moving to Chicago in 21 days, and I'm totally fine with that, and I'm so happy for him!
Please check back in 22 days.
Many of you still here reading all of this drivel may remember that Effexor nightmare that I went through nearly two years ago. I never really shared the full horror of it.
I want to do that now.
I want to explain myself.
I want to, hopefully, be an arm reaching out to a drowning soul.
There is hope.
It's a very difficult journey for me to share with you, not only for the vulnerability it will take to share it, but for the sheer fact that I have had some serious memory loss because of it all, and it's almost physically draining to try to remember things. At this point, much, if not most of my life seems as if it were a dream - or that I've watched a movie of someone else's life.
I'm not sure when it all started - but it seems I've always had some issues with anxiety, racing thoughts, hypomania, ADHD and mild depression. Of course, I did my best to hide these things, especially the depression - because somewhere, somehow - I'd deemed depression a disease of the weak.
Life seemed a struggle for me. A struggle to finish things, a struggle to decide, a struggle to calm down. A struggle. I felt as if I were always fighting the good fight, starting over, changing my mind - over and over. And yet many times I got more done, and was more focused than anyone I knew.
It was quite exhausting.
This wasn't a daily struggle - it's not like I was always struggling - but it was just a common thread that tied my years together.
But - I was always pretty happy. I really was. I've always enjoyed life. I love learning. I love doing. I love people. I love love.
I can assure you that I am and always have been the very person that has been portrayed here on my blog.
I can assure my 'real life' friends that I am that person they know - I am not someone else behind closed doors.
I'm not an angry person, I'm not an argumentative person. There is peace in my home.
Anytime I sought help from Dr's, it was always the same answer - 'try this pill'.
So I did.
I tried Sarafem at one time - which was just Prozac renamed with flowers on the package for us gals to take a couple of weeks out of the month when we were hormonally out of sorts.
It seemed that it initially helped and then of course, I'd go off.
Fast forward to August of 2012.
I'm doing great - I've lost so much weight it's not funny - Aaron is grown, finishing high school and is readying himself to move to Chicago to go to Paul Mitchell.
I felt that life couldn't get much better - I was fit, happy, life was just great.
But - my ovaries hurt like crazy during ovulation.
I had off the charts anxiety right before my periods.
One or the other I could take - but not both...something had to be done...
Again, I went to the Dr, and wanted relief.
Birth control pills or antidepressants were the options given to me.
Oh how I wish I would have just come home and talked to friends first, or thought about it some - or researched something.
But I didn't.
In our 'quick fix' world, I took the pill.
I chose the Effexor because I feared the birth control pill would cause weight gain, and I'd never taken them before - but I felt that I didn't want my hormones played with.
So I chose my brain.
I started taking Effexor in late August of 2012.
It worked great -
but what I didn't realize is that by September of 2012, I was pretty much in a hypomanic state.
This is where it gets fuzzy you guys - I sort of don't remember the year 2013 and the first half of 2014. It's truly a blur. I almost feel that I will be telling falsehoods if I try to be detailed here.
I do remember that the Spring of 2013 was an especially hard time - I got a bad case of poison ivy, and had to take steroids. I believe it was sometime in there I got the shingles. I remember that summer stepping on a rusty nail and having to go get a tetanus shot, and it was during that Dr's visit they told me my blood pressure was high - and it was a side effect of the Effexor - so I decided to wean myself off the Effexor.
And you guys went through that with me - and I thank you for it.
The things that happened from May to November of 2013 are quite a blur - my brain was not right.
I was hypomanic or depressed. I was not myself, and it was frightening.
Withdrawal from Effexor has been likened to heroin withdrawal.
The after effects of taking Effexor have been equally as devastating. I fell into a serious depression and was suicidal.
I hit an all time low around Thanksgiving of 2013 and suffered a nervous breakdown.
Aaron tried his best to get me out of bed at times.
I was a ghost, I was completely empty inside.
Upon the insistence of my dear friend Gina, who would bring me Starbucks and let me cry - I went back to the Dr.
I finally stopped trying to be strong - I simply couldn't.
I cried freely and often.
I didn't bathe or dress.
I was broken.
My cousin drove up from Missouri to watch me so Glen could work.
For the first time in my life, I was truly worried about myself.
At the Dr's office I sat and cried for an hour and explained everything.
She sent me to a wonderful therapist who've I've been seeing on a monthly basis since.
She initially diagnosed me as Bipolar II.
Perhaps this comes as much of a shock to you as finding out Liberace was gay.
The diagnosis was as devastating to me as the symptoms of bipolar were.
I felt labeled, crazy, broken, and I would say things like 'I HAVE bipolar, I'M not bipolar'.
I felt that if anyone knew, they would shun me like a leper, or they would talk about me saying 'I knew it all along' - or just treat me differently.
And here I am announcing it on the world wide web.
Nice knowing you!
It's been a lllooonnggg, hard road - but I am well.
I've read about bipolar disorder until my eyeballs have fallen out.
I've taken webinars - the best one being 'Bipolar INorder' by Tom Wooten.
I'm not on any medication at all, and in fact I refuse to take anything, not even an allergy pill.
I'd have to be in some kind of pain to take even ibuprofen.
I've found out that my brain chemistry is so incredibly sensitive, that I cannot even have a cortisone shot without suffering a mood swing.
I'm not willing to take chances anymore.
I've set my mind on treating it naturally with nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise and mindfulness. I've been very successful, although it hasn't been easy. I reach out now. My therapist tells me I'm a poster child, and in fact has just recently removed the 'label' of bipolar from me, taking the diagnosis down to Cyclothymic Disorder.
Hypomanic phase of cyclothymia
The highs (hypomania) of cyclothymia meet the same diagnostic definition of hypomania for type II bipolar disorder. Signs and symptoms may include:
- An exaggerated feeling of happiness or well-being (euphoria)
- Extreme optimism
- Inflated self-esteem
- Poor judgment
- Rapid speech
- Racing thoughts
- Aggressive or hostile behavior
- Being inconsiderate of others
- Excessive physical activity
- Risky behavior
- Spending sprees
- Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
- Increased sexual drive
- Decreased need for sleep
- Tendency to be easily distracted
- Inability to concentrate
Depressive phase of cyclothymia
Depressive episodes of cyclothymia may include a combination of these signs and symptoms:
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Sleep problems
- Appetite problems
- Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
- Decreased sex drive
- Problems concentrating
- Chronic pain without a known cause
But this I'll always know - I'm genetically prone to it.
I believe without a shadow of a doubt that genetics has loaded the gun, but my lifestyle will pull the trigger.
I have to be extremely careful with what I eat, my sleep schedule, monitoring stress, vitamin and mineral supplementation. I do Tapping, I pray, I meditate, I practice mindfulness and gratitude.
I have the most incredible support system known to man - Glenco, Aaron, my cousin Jim, my friends, my blog readers - I'm blessed beyond measure.
I'm well. I'm really well.
If you've gotten this far, thank you - you deserve a chicken picture.