It's my hope to post entries here about my life and experiences as a trans-woman who also happens to have bipolar disorder. This is my way of making my voice be heard, and bringing attention to the issues that myself and others like me, face every day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Part 2 My Bipolar Story

It's my day off today, and I've got some time to myself, so I'll go into more detail about my bipolar issues. Mostly I want to touch on my symptoms and talk a bit about my treatment. There's a lot of ground to cover since I'm writing all this several months into treatment, so I apologize if it at all seems disorganized. I'm feeling a little manic today, so hopefully that will help me write out some decent content. 

Anyway, let's get into my symptoms. As I said, there's a bit of mania going on today, my meds may need to be upped, so let's start on symptoms of my highs. I'll start with my current ones since there's not a lot of thinking to write about what I'm feeling right now. It's been a very restless day for me, I can't imagine any reason why since it's raining out and should be a lazy day. For some reason I can't sit still, even as I write this I'm tapping my foot and fingers at any pause in writing. My mind is just as restless, and going from one idea to the next before I can even figure out what the last idea was. So today I'm really just a mess, I can't focus on getting housework done, I can't sit still, and my mind is just very jumbled and chaotic.  

Symptoms that I've exhibited in the past have been far better. I used to paint, write blogs, poetry, and just do very creative and productive things when I got into a manic episode. I've heard that bipolar gets worse over time and as you get older, and I feel like that's certainly the case with me. I've become so much less productive and creative during a manic episode that it's almost depressing enough to knock me out of it, almost. I feel like my mania has only gotten more chaotic and unfocused as I've gotten older. There's also a memory loss problem that's been popping up in the last couple of years or so. I have trouble remembering things, and I guess that happens as a result of my brain going from one extreme to the next. I did one of those online genetic tests not long ago to find out about my heritage and stuff. I took the raw data and sent it to a site that will interpret it for you, and I found out that I'm 11 times more likely than the average person to develop alzheimer's in old age. So that means that memory loss is a big deal to me now, and something that I'm paying close attention to for any signs of it worsening. It pretty much means I'm guaranteed to develop this one day down the line, and it's terrifying to me, but at least I know.  

Addiction is the next thing to touch on. Yes, I have one, and no it's not drugs. My addiction is sugar, which led to my teeth problems. It's an addiction that I didn't even realize I had until after I started treatment for the bipolar. My job pushes me to work fast, and in the middle of the night, that's tough. It's a tough job on any given day, so for the longest time I would go buy candy and a soda or energy drink on my breaks. I would finish off those in no time and get the boost of energy I needed to get through the night. I would also eat copious amounts of candy and caffeine in efforts to spark off a manic episode, which was short lived at best even when it did work. All that might not have been such a huge problem if not for the fact that I just wasn't taking care of my teeth at all. So now I'm literally paying for a decade of neglecting my teeth. I've still got two that have to come out, and most of my bottom teeth still need fillings, but all of that will get done in time.  

Now for the depression. Quite frankly, I didn't even know that I was depressed. I got through my days, and took care of myself well enough, and I didn't really have anything in particular that was bothering me or making me feel sad. I assumed that transition had gotten me past the worst of my depression, and I would still say that it did, but it didn't go away apparently. When I was younger, I was depressed and I knew it. I didn't want to do anything, I'd listen to depressing music, I'd cut myself, and I would wish that I would die. That to me was depression, and I assumed that since I didn't feel that way, I wasn't depressed. I was so wrong though, and it took my girlfriend telling me that I didn't have to feel depressed to be depressed that sort of woke me up. Every day I just felt tired and achy, and I didn't feel like doing much. Sure, some days I would feel sad about my job, but over all, I wasn't feeling what I remembered from when I was younger. Apparently lack of energy and body aches are signs of depression, and I didn't even realize what was going on until I did my research. I guess it grew up along with me, and just as I changed, so did it.  

I took my meds not too long ago, and I can feel the high starting to wind down a little, so I'll finish up with a little about my treatment. I've been in therapy ever since late July. After my fist appointment, my therapist thought it was definitely possible that I had bipolar disorder, so she referred me out to the psychiatrist in the building. I saw the psychiatrist who agreed with my own diagnosis and prescribed me abilify. I started out on a 2mg dose, which is the lowest possible dose you can get. That actually made me feel what I can only describe as "normal". After a couple of weeks I noticed one day that I didn't feel the symptoms of either depression or mania, so it must be working. I had been on it for about a month, and then one day out of nowhere a depression set in. So I made an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist who upped my dose to 5mg, which I'm still currently on, but it may be increased if this touch of mania goes on for too long. I've been seeing my therapist about once a week, which I may cut back to twice a month for financial reasons, but she's been a big help to navigate myself through treating this thing. I've been using a workbook that takes you through exercises to do to help you understand yourself and the illness, and she's working through that with me.  

So there you have it, the conclusion thus far of my bipolar story. It's far from over, I'm stuck with this for life I guess, so I'm sure I'll have more to write about in the future. I just hope that writing about this may help someone else out there going through these same experiences that may not know what's going on either. That's it for now, I'll try to keep the momentum up with writing on here. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My Bipolar Story

I have no chores that can't wait a bit, so that gives me the time to do a little elaboration on the bipolar diagnosis and what led me to it. I tried to get into that some in the last post, but I was somewhat rushed for time, so I didn't really get into details much. So today is going to be about what led up to my diagnosis. 

I guess the best place to start with something like this is at the beginning, so I'll go back as far as possible. It was probably around the same time that I first realized that my gender didn't exactly match my physical sex that you could say the bipolar showed itself in some form. I, like probably a good half of those of us that grew up in the 90s, was diagnosed around five or six as having ADHD; I was also medicated for it for quite a few years. On its own that diagnosis isn't worth much, but it means a lot when you consider that many people who are initially diagnosed as such go on to be diagnosed as bipolar later in life. I can't say for certain when I first showed signs, although I definitely did by the time I tried to kill myself when I was 16. There's the major depressive episode for anyone familiar with the diagnostic criteria.  

I've gone through periods of highs and lows for as long as I can remember, and it only got worse the older I got. I only saw the lows as bad; the highs felt good, and I was so much more happy and productive. I wrote poems, made paintings, took photos, and was generally very creative. I would have so much pent up energy that it felt like it would just explode if I didn't try to burn some off. I assumed that when I felt that way I was feeling normal, or I was just having a good week or two. I never connected my insomnia to it either. Aside from the depression and gender identity issues, I assumed that the highs I experienced at times were things everyone felt sometimes. Of course, like I said, things got worse as I got older.  

I wouldn't say that I ever had a break from reality, but I did have some pretty out there ideas in my head that I was convinced were true. One example being that I was convinced that I was a thousands of years old vampire that would keep reincarnating for eternity. I even drank blood from a few people, and I was convinced that this was all true, of course at the same time I knew it was fucking crazy sounding and had best keep it to myself. I also decided around the time I turned 18 to stop going to the dentist. I had been through some bad experiences over the years, and had braces, so I guess I just got tired of having someone working in my mouth so much. I got it into my head that if I stopped going and took exceptionally good care of my teeth, that I would be fine the rest of my life that way. That one came back to bite me in the ass, but I'll get into more detail on that as this story nears the present. 

It was probably when I was around 20 that anyone first used the word bipolar to describe me. I was acting particularly crazy and hyper one day annoying my boyfriend at the time, and he told me that sometimes he thought I might be bipolar. It was said out of annoyance, and at the time I was a little pissed off to hear it, though I didn't really give it a second thought. It wasn't until about 2012 during a high involving staying awake for the better part of three days that I revisited that idea. I think Stef may have used the term, and I went digging on google for the symptoms. Needless to say, what I found sounded like me on almost every level. After reading everything I could about bipolar, I was convinced that I probably had it.  

I tried some self help stuff off and on over the last few years, but nothing ever seemed to help for very long, or I just never stuck with it. Many abandoned projects are yet another feature of bipolar. I tried sticking to a daily routine for a while, but that just drove me nuts and I abandoned that. Getting a steady job with consistent hours and days I think helped to at least somewhat level me out. If anything, my job as an overnight stocker is probably a decent outlet for the highs. They certainly help to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, but the lows are what hurt me. I've been pulled into the office at least a few times and questioned about why I was slower than usual, or why I didn't seem to care about what I was doing. I never got into any too serious trouble, I always played it off as just being tired or not feeling well.  

This year was my break through year. It took a combination of things to push me to seek treatment. First of all, that decision about my teeth came back on me full circle. From the beginning of 2016 until early this year, I had several teeth begin to lose pieces out of them, and one that partially broke off. Over time they started causing me pain, and it finally got so bad that I couldn't even eat anything more solid than bread. When I finally saw a dentist, they told me that five teeth had to come out and that I had more teeth with cavities to be filled than ones that didn't. The other major thing happened around the same time. I got a yearly review at work, and it was pointed out that sometimes I was really good, and sometimes I was really bad at my job. That stung a bit, but over all, it wasn't a bad review. That comment just stuck with me because I knew what was going on.  

The final straw was an argument with the girlfriend about my lack of trying to do chores around the house. This was an argument that came up frequently over and over again, but this time I knew she was right when she told me that my fatigue and achiness was probably depression. Within a week I had made an appointment to see a counselor, who confirmed that I probably had some type of mood disorder and referred me to my psychiatrist. That totally confirmed it when I walked out with a diagnosis of bipolar 2 and a prescription for abilify. I was on a high at the time, so the abilify was to help bring me down. 

Well, there you have it, that's my bipolar story, at least a condensed version. It would probably be a novel length book if I wrote this whole story out in detail. I'll write a bit more later about what I'm doing to treat illness, and maybe go into my symptoms a little more as well. I've got a lot to catch up on with this blog, and so little time to work on it these days. So just bare with me and I'll try to get everything running smoothly here again. That's all I've got for now. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

A New Name!

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve made a few changes to this page, starting with the name. I felt that given my new diagnosis, BP TG is a more fitting title. I’m trying to get back into posting on here fairly regularly, I’m sure it would certainly bring in a bit more traffic if I did. Life does tend to get in the way frequently though, so I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to. Work and having chores to do around my own apartment now have taken up the majority of my time, but I’m trying to squeeze in a little writing time here and there. I haven’t made all of the changes I would like to on here yet, but given enough time and effort I’m sure I can make everything happen.

I’m months into this diagnosis, so I’ve had time to sort of get used to the idea that I have bipolar disorder. Even though I knew for sure I would walk out of the psychiatrist’s office with that diagnosis, it still stung a little. I guess in the back of my mind I hoped that I was somehow wrong and had misdiagnosed myself. At the same time I knew it was correct; I knew myself and how I feel, and bipolar just made the most sense. It had been going on since well before the trans issues came into the forefront of my life. If anything, transitioning probably helped treat it to an extent, because it brought me out of the worst of the depressions that I would fall into. I certainly wasn’t suicidal anymore, so it was a pretty big help when you look at it like that.
I credit transition with saving my life, even if it did in some part eclipse another, just as deep, underlying issue. I would have never lived long enough to be diagnosed without it. I know now where a lot of my creativity comes from, and why it seems to come and go as it pleases. I know now why I did a lot of the things I did and didn’t do. I’m transgender and I’m bipolar, what a hell of a combination, but I’m owning it. Neither one defines me, but like it or not they both are a part of who I am, and they have both, in some part, shaped who I am.

So this blog is now officially retitled, and I seem to have gained a lot of new stuff to talk about on it. So that’s all for now, housework is calling even though I’d rather blow it off, I have to do it for my own sake.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A New Diagnosis

It's been a good ten years now since I started hormones and began transition, and for the most part it's been a good experience. It certainly helped pull me out of the deepest depths of depression I would fall into, and it gave me the willpower and incentive to break free of self injury as well. I thought I had everything under control, but I was wrong. I decided over the summer to put my insurance to good use, while I’ve still got it, and get back into therapy again. I did a diagnostic interview with a psychiatrist also, and based on my answers to her questions, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder back in July. I've known for quite some time that I probably had this, but I guess I was in a bit of denial about it, and was afraid of the types of medication for it. I guess over all I was afraid to admit that transition hadn't solved all my mental health problems, and that doing so would potentially make them pull me off the hormones.

I got to the point where I felt like all I was doing was existing and going through the motions every day. I was letting housework slide, just generally letting anything and everything slide, even some basic hygiene. What really woke me up was the coming full circle of my decision when I was 18 to stop seeing a dentist, which in hindsight was the worst decision of my life. It finally caught up to me this year. I figured back then that as long as I took really good care of them, I wouldn’t need to waste my time on the dentist. I then proceeded to more or less do the exact opposite for 12 years and ended up with a mouth full of cavities and broken teeth. This year the pain finally got so bad I had to get something done about it. I found out that I had five teeth that needed to come out, and they didn’t even tell me the exact number of cavities, just that it was a lot. Not being able to eat solid food for a while, spending thousands on my teeth, and some observations from the girlfriend made me realize that I badly needed help.

It’s been a real awakening for me to get this diagnosis, or should I say confirmation of my own diagnosis. I’ve known for a long time that I had periods of highs and lows, and I did my best to manage it all this time, but it just wasn’t cutting it. Now I’m seeing a counselor once a week and my psychiatrist put me on abilify to help level out my moods more. I was in the middle of a high when I did the interview, so that was really to help bring me back down. I’ve still had some issues with depression, so it’s yet to be determined if any other meds are needed. I’ve already had the abilify increased after a depressive episode a month into treatment, and so far so good on that dosage. I’m making progress and I guess I can say that my moods have leveled out for the time being.

I can say now that I’m no longer ashamed, or afraid to admit that I have bipolar disorder. If anything I’m relieved to know that I was right. I’m ready to get my life under control and to get my moods under control. It’s going to be a life long thing that I have to deal with, and to treat. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but for my own sake, I have to move forward with treatment. I’ve spent too many years of my life being sick and tired, and I’ve had enough of the up and down lifestyle I lived for so long. I’m happy with myself, and I mean truly happy, for the first time in so long. I didn’t ask for this any more than I did being trans, but like it or not, it’s a part of me. It does not define me, and it will not rule me any longer. I’m owning it, and I’m going to do my best to overcome it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Declaration of Resistance

July 4th, 2017

        When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the people of the United States to save their nation from tyranny, and to prevent the abuse of power in its highest public offices, a decent respect to the opinions of all requires that they should declare the causes which compel them to resist and defy their government. 
        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that All are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; That whenever officials of that government become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to resist and defy their agenda, as well as to seek and pursue their removal from office. Prudence will dictate that these officials should not be removed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience has shown that people are more disposed to suffer, while evils are insufferable than to right themselves by removing officials they are accustomed to, or voted for. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to demand the removal of such officials in the best interests of their future security. Such has been our patient sufferance; and such is now the necessity which constrains us to seek the removal of certain governing officials. The history of the current president, Donald J. Trump, and republicans in congress, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over this country, and its people. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.  

Donald Trump has obstructed the laws for naturalization of immigrants, and illegally banned refugees in need of safe haven, in the name of national security. 
He has continued to violate federal court orders which require the temporary cessation of this ban, thereby violating his executive oath. 
He has purged the state department of its highest level officials without any regard for a responsible continuity of state affairs. 
He has enlisted amateur ideologues, such as the nationalistic white supremacist Stephen L. Bannon, to make national security decisions. 
He has refused to remove or address conflicts of interest regarding both his own business and that of his cabinet and family. 
He has hastily signed multiple executive orders without the advisement of congress, policy experts, his cabinet or staff. 
He has signed an executive order which knowingly deprives the sick of desperately needed healthcare with no concern for their lives. 
He has signed an executive order permitting a pipeline that tramples on Native American rights and endangers safe water supply. 
He has illegally threatened to cut off funding to sanctuary cities which have determined their values through self-governance. 
He has knowingly, repeatedly and egregiously misled the public, and directed his staff to do the same. 
He has strongly advocated for the silencing and suppression of a free press. 
He has repeatedly and consistently shown contempt for people based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and religion. 
He has shown disdain and disregard for the judiciary, and the fundamental human rights that are the foundation of justice. 
He has actively sought to obstruct justice by removing certain justice department officials who were known to be conducting investigations into his presidential campaign and its ties to Russia. 
He has shown a complete disregard of factual reality, and given numerous indications that his mental faculties are in no condition to hold the office of President. 

Republicans in congress have sought to further their own political and personal agendas, which do not accurately represent the will, or best interests of their constituents or the country as a whole. 
They have drafted, and forced a healthcare bill to be voted on, which knowingly seeks to deprive millions of healthcare, and have lied repeatedly about its contents. 
They have shown flagrant disregard for the illegal, and unethical actions of Donald Trump, and refuse to pursue any action against him. 
They have made it well known that they are pursuing an agenda that seeks to dismantle many vital government agencies, programs and services.
They have actively pursued legislation which financially benefits the richest citizens of the country while also taking advantage of its poorest and most marginalized citizens. 
They have made every attempt to pass legislation that blurs the lines between the separation of church and state. 
They have also shown a complete disregard for factual reality, and have proven themselves to prioritize party politics and agendas above doing what is best for their fellow citizens, the environment, and for future generations. 
They have gerrymandered many of their home districts to ensure that it is nearly impossible for an incumbent republican candidate to lose an election.
The actions of Donald Trump and republican members of congress serve only to weaken and destabilize our government, it's institutions and processes, and to strain our diplomatic relations with allied nations. 

        We therefore, the people of the United States of America, appealing to our fellow citizens, our government, and the world, do solemnly publish and declare our intentions. Donald J. Trump, a man, whose character is thus far marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. He and any official who seeks to damage our democracy or do harm to their fellow citizens, should be removed from office as expediently as is legally possible; and that as free and independent people, we have full power to demand this of our government. For the support of this declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our honor.

Sage F. Cox