Monday, 31 October 2011

November 1, 2011

Hi everyone !

Just thought I'd write another blog now because with exams fast approaching I won't have time over the next month or so.

A recent problem I've been having is with anxiety. When I was on anti-depressants my moods were all over the place, but I wasn't as anxious as before, however; since being off of them I've had random panic attacks. They usually occur in clusters; I'll just have a day or two a week where I am constantly ready to drop to the ground in the foetal position because of a random panic attack. . All I can think is 'I've got to get out of here' and get terrible abdominal cramps, a tight feeling in my chest and throat, I feel like I'm 'zoning out' (kind of like that whole 'white light + can't hear your surroundings properly' thing before you pass out. Anyway, it was getting to be quite a problem, especially at work and uni. . So my doctor told me to go back on the last type of anti-depressants I was on, lexapro. To be honest, while it IS another pill to have to remember to take, I'm not too bothered because I didn't really have any terrible side effects from that one and it helped me lose weight/maintain weight.

WHICH REMINDS ME ! I was warned valproate caused weight gain in some people when I first started taking it, but as I'd lost some weight over the past year I thought it wouldn't affect me because I usually eat reasonably well and do a lot of incidental exercise. Well, I was wrong. Over the course of two or so days my daily hunger levels went from minimal (I don't usually eat much) to almost uncontrollable. So so so hungry all the time, and I put on like 3 kilos in 2 weeks D: I'm kind of vain in that the idea of gaining weight is just a huge fear I have, and after putting in so much effort to lose 10 kilos, regaining 3 was a bit of a kick in the teeth. So I've kind of had to go back to extremely healthy eating and purposely exercising, which I obviously don't LOVE the idea of, but I've already lost one of those three kilos I put back on so I hope the others go away soon too, and I kind of hope lexapro helps with that. .  But we shall see !

As I was saying in the first sentence, exams soon ! This is very exciting for me; nothing compares to the amazing feeling walking out of an exam knowing a topic is COMPLETE. This is my last year of university, and I'm just wrapping up my last semester, just handed in my last assignment, feels crazy, really does. Managing to work next year is going to be a whole new adventure. I honestly don't think I can work full time, I don't think I'm either stable enough, or perhaps I'm just not like normal people who can force themselves to go to work. It's incredibly stressful for me and I don't enjoy pressure. Luckily I do have a great boss and considering where I could be working, I do love my job.. It just IS stressful. Mistakes get noticed, and can seriously affect people (I work in a pathology company), and it worries me of what could happen if I screw up. I know most other people who work there don't worry about it as much as me, but my personality is such that I am terrified of making a mistake or being seen as stupid. I'm going to work 3 days a week over the holidays and see how I go, and like I said, my boss is so understanding.. She knows all about my problems and is a really caring person so I'm hoping it goes well :)

As usual, any questions - feel free to contact me. Or give me ideas of things to write about ! I'm running out D: Thanks for reading !


Saturday, 22 October 2011

October 23, 2011

Howdy y'all.

It was my first little sister's birthday yesterday ! Shelby turned 18, which is a big deal of course, her being an adult now, so we had a big party to celebrate. I decided to take my medication later than usual and have a few drinks earlier on in the night because unfortunately I have enormous social anxiety and the idea of facing a large group of people without any kind of chemical assistance is too daunting. Unfortunately valproate and alcohol don't mix, and I only had about 2 drinks when I started feeling funny + really snoozy. Also if I skip my medication, my muscles twitch so hard it actually moves my whole arm/leg, and my whole body is itchy. It makes me want to murder people, really, it's SO uncomfortable. I had no idea this medication had withdrawal type side effects.. So anyway, I tried real hard to be sociable but I have no idea how I went. It's hard for me to imagine how I come across in conversations because in my head I'm thinking of a reply / a conversation starter, I'm counting how many seconds between eye contact, thinking about my body positioning so I don't come across as rude, trying not to panic when there's an awkward silence, etc. So I'm not totally sure if I come across as awkward and petrified as I feel on the inside, or if I just seem like some nice chatty kid.

I guess feeling so yucky has basically lead me to decide that I'll probably quit drinking. . there are few things I hate more on this earth than vomiting and having a headache, and combining them is some special kind of hell so I just can't risk it. I think at the end of the day, I have to think about what is more important - staying on medication and feeling mostly happy and stable, or quitting meds and going back to feeling like a train wreck but be able to drink a fair amount. . And of course, I pick the first one. It just means I have to find some way to work on my social skills, or at the very least accept that I'm awkward and not engage in any future social interactions ever. While I was toying with the idea of living in a mountain cave and eating nothing but imported salt and vinegar chips, Morgan suggested I try work on my social skills :C So in any case, I am going to try and not be such a socially awkward person, please don't give me too much of a hard time if I come across as rude or anything in conversation. I just suck at it. The only people I can talk to are my immediate family, morgan, and gemma and ellana - who I've known for I think 5 and 3 years respectively. Which is a long time to get comfortable around someone !

 On a completely unrelated matter - I noticed I didn't make a blog about a recent decision I made. I decided to get dreads months ago but couldn't find anyone who used the technique I wanted, until about 2 weeks ago when someone on my facebook said they could dread hair without using products or back combing - just what I wanted ! We met up and now I have a head covered in tenacles which I love so much ! No more swearing at my hair / the mirror every morning cause it looks awful. I'm very happy with the result C: so if you're serious about getting your hair dreaded, let me know and I'll give you contact details (or check out 'Zephyr Elf' on facebook. Thanks for reading !

<3 B.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Kids + Mental Illness

I'm feeling inspired to write this blog due to the recent birth of my first niece, Annabelle Grace. My brother's partner, Jodi, made me so proud throughout the whole pregnancy; she never drank, smoked, didn't take ANY medication except for the supplements she was told to take to help her body, she was such a trooper. The whole birth went a little less smoothly than hoped but Jodi and Curtis were so brave and made me cry on more than one occasion. I can't be more proud of them. And now, we have a beautiful little baby in the Freshney house who couldn't be more beautiful if she tried. . .

The whole experience has made me really clucky to say the least ! But, to begin with, I'm a planner. Have to finish uni, have to get my own little place with Morgan, have to have lots of money, etc. But in addition to those little things I would LIKE to have planned out first (I realise life doesn't always work according to plans) I also have to contend with the fact that I do have a mental illness and I am prescribed some pretty yucky medication to make me able to function on any kind of normal level.

The medication I'm on is category D I believe, which basically says it is known to cause birth defects, but the benefits may outweigh the risks. I have to decide, with the help of some medical professionals, whether the risk of severe depression + mania is great enough to risk the health of my unborn baby. Re-reading that sentence makes me feel so selfish, but if I can't look after myself how am I going to look after another little human who is totally dependent on me ? The risks to the baby include increased risk of spina bifida, lower IQ, and some craniofacial abnormalities. . It is still only a RISK and lots of healthy babies are born to women on valproate all the time, but is it a risk I want to take ? Then there's also the risk of taking medication while breast feeding and possibly harming the baby, but the chance of me having post natal episodes of depression/mania are ridiculously high, and are usually more serious than those that occur without the new stressor of child birth + raising a baby. I also have to consider what I'd do if I accidentally got pregnant. Yes, I use birth control now, but what if it fails ?

There isn't just the physical risk to the child that concerns me. I have to worry about the likelyhood of passing bipolar onto my kids because it does have a genetic component. I also worry about the long term effects of my mood on my kids - I'm I guess what you'd call 'in remission' now. . I'm neither up nor down, and I really do love it (well I do miss the 'ups' but they weren't worth the 'downs'). But I know episodes could still occur in the future, and while they may be less severe than usual, I'm terrified of mentally screwing up a kid. I think having a little sister who is 16 years younger than me has really upset me in some ways because when I'm sad and I have her around me I feel so guilty and worry about her seeing me like that will do to her in the future. She's so young and these times are crucial to her mental development, I don't want her to remember growing up and remembering me being a mess.. I hope she's too young to remember.

Having a grandmother who has bipolar episodes has had a big impact on me and my siblings. We have learned to tiptoe around her and often worry about telling her things / asking her things because of her mood. I'm scared I'll be like that to my kids. I don't want them to ever see me as unpredictable in a scary way or have to worry about talking to me.

I guess there's no reason to worry now and I'll just have to deal with it as it happens and make the choices as the options arise. Maybe if you are mentally ill and there are kids in your life though, especially children who count on you/trust you, THINK about what you're doing to them. And if you don't want to get better for yourself, for christ's sake, do it for them. You don't know what damage you could be doing.

Also, in relation to my first post, don't give teen parents shit until you really understand what kind of parent they are. My brother and Jodi are young parents and they are so much more responsible than a bunch of adult parents I know. Age means NOTHING in terms of responsibility.

Guess that's it.