Check out the guest blog I did for Emerald Barnes’s “Dreaming Awake.”
Check out the guest blog I did for Emerald Barnes’s “Dreaming Awake.”
A few months ago I wrote about how I had again received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. As many of us know, one of the major characteristics of bipolar disorder is mood swings. My doctor prescribed medicine that worked quite well in stabilizing my mood–that is until January 27, 2016. On that day, I had a hysterectomy.
Last year I was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis. The only permanent treatment is a full hysterectomy. After six months of unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant, we made the decision for me to have the surgery. After I healed, the physical difference was amazing, particularly in regards to my lower back pain. I can now walk long distances without much discomfort. Yay me! Mentally is a different story.
One of the side effects of a hysterectomy is that you are thrown into menopause, and one of the major things about menopause is that you have mood swings. Bipolar disorder and menopause is no joke. Although I’m on medication, the emotional upheavals were unbearable. I found myself getting irritated at little things (an aspect of hypomania) although I’m regularly taking my medication. On the flip side, I was crying for no reason at all. Because of these things, I made the decision to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Along with my medication, HRT has helped with the irrational irritability and crying spells, however I still struggle with one mental challenge. I can only describe it as the most horrible mix of depression and anxiety that I have experienced since I was a teenager. On a good day, I constantly think about my own death. Not in a suicidal ideation type of way, but always thinking that I will be dying soon, either from a horrible accident or from fatal health issues.
On a bad day, the thoughts and feelings are so bad that I don’t like leaving the house, and I even feel shaky trying to drive–shaky in the sense that I’m panicked and hyper-aware of other cars because I’m waiting for the car accident to happen. You would think that being hyper-aware would make you safer, but I don’t feel safer so I usually find someone else to drive. Even then, I’m still looking out for disaster.
My daughter likes to sleep in the same bed as me to have mommy snuggles before slumber. I’ve gotten so panicked about me dying in my sleep and not wanting my daughter to wake up with her dead mother in bed with her that I’ve started refusing her requests. I don’t tell her the real reason why, but focus on her getting older and needing to sleep on her own.
Trying to sleep is a whole other issue. Not only am I plagued by thoughts of dying of a heart attack in my sleep, but anxiety over a house fire or natural disaster keep me up until the early hours of the morning. I will lie in bed and plot exit routes out of the house, safety precautions in case of or a tornado, or I’ll just cry because I don’t want to die yet.
This is no way to live. I’m hoping my doctor can switch my medication so that the madness can end. Until then, I’m writing more poetry just to get it all out of my head.
This is just a glimpse into mental illness and bio-chemical changes within the body. The next time you encounter someone with these issues, please remember this post and be compassionate–that person has enough hurt and worry to deal with without the need for social sanctioning or ostracizing.
Much has happened since we moved to the Chicago area.
I spent a month on the couch in severe pain. Testing showed that I had ovarian cysts and a tumor, which required surgery. After the surgery, we learned that I have Stage IV endometriosis. During the first surgery, much of the endometrial tissue was removed, along with my left ovary and fallopian tube. Unfortunately, since I’m Stage IV, I still experience continual discomfort with random episodes of sharp stabbing pain. To treat this, I will be having a full hysterectomy in January, which will mean six to eight weeks of more healing time.
Given my physical health challenges and a familial episode that was sparked by my sometimes illogical sense of aggravation, I decided it was past time to really be serious about my overall health–for my benefit and my family’s benefit, particularly my daughter, Maya, because she deserves a healthy and happy mom. To this end, I decided to accept the diagnosis I was given when I was twenty-six. I went to a psychiatrist for re-evaluation and was finally honest about some things that I had never told a mental healthcare worker before–specifically about my compulsive spending, days of elevated irritability, and episodes where things seem to explode and my behavior becomes erratic (which often leads to self-injury). The psychiatrist confirmed what I was told fourteen years ago–I have bipolar II with hypomania. I’m not rejecting the diagnosis anymore.
For now, I’m on new medicine, and so far the change has been so amazing, I’m mentally kicking myself for not doing this sooner. Of course I will likely have to fight the urge that I had so many years ago–once I feel good for a while, I will need to resist the urge to convince myself that there’s nothing really wrong with me, those episodes were just me having a “bad day.” More recently I had justified all of this by saying that I had an intolerance for a**holes. Like I told the psychiatrist, with so many different episodes with different people, the only common denominator was ME. Therefore, I need to get over myself and accept the fact that I’m the one with the issue so I can treat it and go on with my life.
So that’s what I’m doing. As you can expect, you will read much more about my journey in upcoming posts. Until then, health and blessings to all.
I was lucky enough to be asked to write a column for the up-and-coming website “Columnist with a View.” My piece is “Writing to Survive.” My column is a very personal piece about how I got started as a writer.
Be sure to check it out along with all the other wonderful columns by awesome writers. I highly recommend it to all!
I will be joining with thousands of people nationwide this fall to walk in AFSP’s Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk Out of the Darkness Community Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I would appreciate any support that you give me for this worthwhile cause.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at the forefront of research, education and prevention initiatives designed to reduce loss of life from suicide. With more than 39,000 lives lost each year in the U.S. and over one million worldwide, the importance of AFSP’s mission has never been greater, nor our work more urgent.
I hope you will consider supporting my participation in this event. Any contribution will help the work of AFSP, and all donations are 100% tax deductible.
Donating online is safe and easy! To make an online donation please click the “Donate Now” button on this page.
Thank you for visiting my fundraising page!
I will not settle. I will not take orders. I am NOT defined by what others expect of me. I will not create myself in someone else’s image. I trust my own moral compass to guide my actions. I create my own happiness. I am grateful for all that I have. I embrace diversity as a path to enrichment. I accept the challenge to find the positive, to learn the lesson, in even the most negative situations. I am constantly becoming a more perfect ME, forever in progress.
Life is not without suffering. I have a unique opportunity to transform my own suffering into a bridge of understanding. Understanding only blossoms when the soil is rich with learning. The only constant in life is change. There is only meaning in change when we are self aware, when we learn. Through the awareness of my own experience, I continue to learn so that I continue to be a conduit for healing, touching the lives of people who have also suffered, comforting them through storytelling.