up, down, sideways

I have been in the midst of a hypomanic spell, but I think it has ended. It was actually more of a mixed mood, because while I was exhibiting my typical signs of hypomania, I was depressed as well. During these times I have especially jumbled and chaotic thinking (more than normal), decreased ability to concentrate, feelings of work-related stress, increased nervousness and anxiety, restlessness, irritability, higher blood pressure, decreased sleep when I need more sleep, and increased appetite. I also increase the rate at which I pick at my fingers, leaving them raw and bloody sometimes (which warrants a separate post someday). At the same time I have very depressive thoughts which take the form of catastrophizing, lack of self-esteem, pessimism, and obsessive thinking. 

Ironically, I produce some of my best poetry during these times when my creative energy is high but my thoughts are especially dark. I wrote something the other day which is honestly too dark to share right now, but it sits on my computer as a reminder of my thought process at the time.

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist during the middle of this phase, and it was very stressful for me. First he took my blood pressure, and it was 162 over 105, which is not good; I take medicine to control my BP, and usually it is much lower. I told him I wasn’t surprised; I tried to explain what was going on, and tried to discuss ADD symptoms (another future post), but I wasn’t expressing myself very clearly. In addition he had three med students in the room (all females), and it was a little distracting with them listening. Then there was a banging on the roof, which kept taking my attention away from the moment. He worked with me though, made an adjustment to my medication, and I felt better as I left. 

However … I wondered if the P-doc and the students talked about my case, and it bothers me not knowing, but obviously I’m making too big a deal out of it if it is still on my mind. I overanalyze and obsess over every social situation, because I feel like I fuck up most of my interactions with people. I feel like I said the wrong thing, or I was misunderstood, or that they are judging me afterward (the worst). I always wish I could think about it, then go back to the situation and fix whatever I did poorly the first time (as if that would work).

this so-called recovery

People who don’t have mental illness seem to think that you can recover from all mental illness. I suppose it’s in how you define “recovery”. If you see recovery as having no more symptoms and leading a “normal” life, I’m afraid that’s a myth for me.

I believe recovery, by this definition, is possible for some people with anxiety or depression or other disorders where therapy is the primary treatment, possibly enhanced with medication. But I think people like me who have bipolar or schizophrenia or other serious lifelong conditions have to accept that being symptom-free is nearly impossible.

I have accepted for some time that I will always be chasing stability, that I will always need a cocktail of medication to control the bipolar, and that I will fight it to a draw on most days. Some days it will win, and I won’t be able to function at all; most days the meds help me deal with it and allow me to pretend to be a functional adult.

That doesn’t sound like recovery to me. It seems more like a fight to the death, and at the moment, I’m hoping to die from something else and not the bipolar.

unwelcome houseguest

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Corona.

No joking. We don’t know for sure, but we think Mrs. Fish is infected. She’s sick with something, and what else could it be? She doesn’t have the cough, and only a mild fever at times, but she has other symptoms that are consistent. We’ll try to get her an online doctor’s appointment tomorrow to see what they say (and they’ll say “call us again when it gets worse”).

What else would be that easy to catch for the little contact she has had with the public? She stopped working three weeks ago. She has been careful while out shopping, distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home unless necessary. I have done the same, and I have no symptoms. It’s not easy to catch a flu virus in the wild when you’re not being careful. What are the chances this is the flu, really?

I’m worried about her, but she’s in good health, so I don’t think she’s in any real danger. On the other hand, I’m real nervous about myself getting it. I’m 50, fat, and have elevated blood pressure, which put me more at risk. And I don’t like hospital food.

So Anne is isolated in our bedroom with Netflix and Animal Crossing (our daughter’s handheld game). I have been sleeping in my easy chair (don’t worry, I’ve had lots of practice). I’m doing all the cooking, and I’m running out of ideas (who says you can’t do grilled cheese every other day?).

And tomorrow, I have to tell my supervisor that I have to be restricted from coming into the office because I’ve probably been exposed. I’ve been working from home, but with occasional trips in for printing or essential paperwork. I guess someone will have to print large sets of plans for me this next week.

Update: Her doctor nurse practitioner seems to think it is something else, not COVID, but “get better soon, ok?” They will not test her, because of the lack of adequate public testing in this country. So do we assume the NP is correct, and go back to a semi-normal life, or do we continue to have her self-isolate under the assumption that she might have the COVID? Do I tell my office it was a false alarm and that I haven’t been exposed? So many unanswered questions that a test would help put to rest.

2nd update: Her symptoms seemed to go away after five days, so just to be sure she stayed in the bedroom for a few days after her symptoms went away. No one else has felt anything adverse since then. Again, due to a lack of testing, we don’t know if it was COVID or not, but it seems less likely now.