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.