I am in a small room and it came to life, scaring the bejeezus out of me.
A can fell off the shelf (but didn’t really). The smoke alarm rang out twice (but didn’t really). Someone slammed their hand on my desk (but no one was here). A pane in the window cracked (but didn’t really).
I covered my head with my pillow until I could get control of the fear that I was the one cracking up, then I was able to sit and allow the hallucinations their performances.
Why do I think they are gone, and they are gone for days, then come back full-force for no apparent reason? Am I going to have several more days or these noisy, annoying visions and sounds? No scents, at least so far, just the visual and auditory hallucinations. When I was in bed, I thought I felt something crawling on me, but ignored it and it went away, so maybe some tactile will wander back to my skin.
I tried to sleep, but the random noises kept occurring so I got up to write. This way I have some control over validating if these things were real or not.
I have a lot of canvas pictures on the walls and they keep tilting, which is impossible since they are stuck on with Command Strips. I blink and they regain their correct positions.
The best way to describe it is like a not-too-serious earthquake shaking things up, but when I blink or close my eyes for a few moments, everything goes back to their proper place.
I do wonder if I’m going headlong into mania. I thought I’d avoided it, but now things are picking up steam again. I still refuse to take the Risperdal, so if I fall over, it’s my own fault.
I have not slept since I woke up 23 hours ago despite the try when all the action abruptly started and I gave up an hour later. I would love to sleep, but am not remotely tired. I do get a bit worried when I have not slept for 24 hours or more, but not much to do about it.
My vocabulary is exemplary with clients. My mouth is pouring out words I rarely use. My brain is on fire!
I am writing like mad.
I am lost as to time. I thought yesterday (Friday) was Monday all day long. I have appointments on Monday and was ready for them wondering where my connections were… why were they so late? I still barely know what day it is. I keep looking at the calendar to see where I am.
I no longer care one whit about the hallucinations. They are worth this glorious activity and brain power.
I’m tempted to cancel the psych appointment next week, but I can hear all of you now… “NO!” so I won’t.
My Cardiac Stress Test came back no blockage in my heart. I am ecstatic about that! I’ve tortured my heart since I was 11 years old, so it’s actually shocking. The summary suggested “Lifestyle Changes.”
I fucking hate Risperdal. I hadn’t taken it in a few (many) days and took the 1mg prescribed and was so groggy all day as if I had taken Trazodone. I hate dreamless sleep. Still was only five hours total, but felt horrible when awake.
What is the price of non-compliance?
I will see if there is something else I can take when I talk to the psych next week.
What Does “Slightly Mad” Look Like?
Maybe I am just in Hypomania with teensy bits of manic hallucinations.
(Can you hear me laughing as I try and rationalize my behavior and thoughts? If I was listening to myself, I would be shaking my head and saying, “Stop it!”)
I had a Cardiac Stress Test today. The ants came along with me. It’s ever so much fun trying to ignore hallucinations in a medical setting. More on that in a bit.
Besides being a fat girl, the COVID I had late December fucked with my heart and lungs. I had heart palpitations from early January until I went to the ER mid-April. (“They’re going to go away! Dr. Google said they are transient.” They were not.)
While in the hospital, a full work-up also found swollen lymph nodes in one lung. They weren’t too worried about that and said to go for another CT in six months. Easy peasy.
The heart, though. Well, let’s just say when I talked to the Electrocardiologist from my hospital bed at the end of April, he gave me an ultimatum.
These Are Choices?
“You can either completely change your life or you live in a nursing home.”
See, when people said I was going to die, that was pretty much saying, “You get out just like we all get out.” So what? I could not have cared less.
However, a nursing home?
I had pictures of myself at 400 pounds with some nurse’s aid wiping my ass. I could smell my life of urine and shit. I saw the rows of wheelchairs and my super-sized one in the corner waiting for me to go to a dinner of mush and slop.
(This might not be your view of nursing homes, but it was what my mind flashed to.)
Well, the idea of a nursing home was less than appealing, so I decided the other option of changing my life wins that argument.
I quit eating from Uber Eats.
I threw out the salt. Mind you, I put salt on salt, so not having salt was the most challenging change.
I only buy low-sodium/no sodium foods. (No lowER, sodium, I shoot for less than 1000 mgs salt daily.
I now drink Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.
I upped my vegan game, but the cardiologist said, “You might want to eat salmon for your heart and kidneys.” I eat a small bit of salmon three times a week and take Omega-3 supplements daily.
I take Metoprolol Tartrate for my heart palpitations (PVCs).
I take Lasix to keep the water from flowing up and squishing my heart.
What’s Changed So Far
The heart palpitations/PVCs are gone.
The Lasix has stopped my retaining fluid. Good LORD, salt sure had me retaining fluid. I had so much in my body it was actually squishing my heart! That is a fuck ton of fluid.
I’ve lost 60 pounds since the beginning of May.
I just got permission to start walking again. Woo hoo!
Today’s Cardiac Stress Treat
The stress test was a chemical one instead of the treadmill.
It took wayyyyyy longer than expected because I am a hard stick for IVs and they had to bring in the PICC team woman to ultrasound my arm. She found it quick and easy after 4 pokes from the nurses. “I am a hard stick. You might want to get someone with a sono to do it.” <ignore Barb/>
Ants on a Log
Yeah, I brought the ants with me to the hospital. I closed my eyes and meditated to my Queen mix, deciphering the different vocal and instrumental parts to keep my mind working and not seeing or slapping the ants. I could still feel them, but worked to not feel them as much.
“Oh, listen to Deacy’s bass. That goes well with Roger’s kick drum.”
“Listen to Brian, Freddie, and Roger’s harmony. That’s Roger up there. I hear Brian better on this section. Freddie sure has range!”
I laughed thinking what they would think if I demonstrated my hallucination dance. I might be put on another floor of the hospital. At least I recognize my hallucinations. I know I am lucky that way.
Sniffing… Well, Sometimes Glue (I think)
At the hospital, I realized my olfactory hallucinations (phantosmia) are back, too. They have been for awhile, but it didn’t hit me until I began smelling the scent of a rotten animal at the hospital, too. It has been an on-again-off-again smell in my room. I have torn it apart looking for a dead animal, not finding anything. My room is sealed! There is no way for anything to get in. Why that didn’t hit me sooner is beyond me.
My olfactory hallucinations have been the most frequent hallucinations I’ve had over the last 30 years. Even when I am fine and balanced, I still have them. I have not had them for over a year; no idea why not. But here they are again.
Usually, when I am depressed, I smell gross things like vomit, something burning, shit or… dead animals?
When I am doing well, I smell great things like the plumeria in Kaua’i, strawberries, and (this is hilarious) the scent of the paper fresh off the ditto machine.
Am I Sliding Into Mania?
Yet, here I am, not depressed but having hallucinations.
I’ve sat for awhile and thought about the last couple of weeks. I also scoured Dr. Google.
Written a LOT of posts
Written things I regret writing (blessedly not on the blog that I can see… yet, anyway… but sadly to someone who I love very much)
Am sleeping way less
Am talking louder than I need to be
Saying things that are out of character
Fuck. Maybe I am sliding into mania again.
I have an appointment with my Psychiatrist in one week. I will let you know how it goes.
Afterthought: I started off this post all happy and almost silly. Now that I am in this place with new light, I am not so giddy.
It seemed to take forever to get control over the hallucinations and be able to sleep, and when I did, I slid into Depression mid-December. The fight to find balance between soaring highs and plunging lows has eluded me. Just when I think I am finding stasis, I slip by it and move to the next level of distress.
And here we are, mid-January 2017, and I am, once again, having hallucinations, staying awake for far, far too long.
Will I never find balance?
I’ve had increasing hallucinations for at least 2 weeks now. They aren’t terrifying yet, but they are on their way there.
Today I was visited by a bat!
Fucking thing was flying around the room then dove right for my head. I ducked and covered myself, but, of course, it wasn’t real, so if someone had been watching, it would have given them a hearty laugh. Other visual non-existent treats have been my clothes on the back of the door lifting off and swaying back and forth a couple of times and nondescript somethings sitting on the dressers or on my bed.
(I feel like a crazy woman sharing these things. How can I talk about what is going on so casually? I think it is just getting to be so normal, I am more shrugging than freaking out about it.)
The auditory hallucinations have returned, my hearing all sorts of crazy noises from windstorms to doorbell chimes. And the incessant whispers, always just out of earshot and too low for me to understand, but they are not happy noises. “Ominous” is the word I would use to describe them.
Oh, the goddamn tactile sensations. Again, feeling like I have bugs crawling on me. Not lots so far, but just enough to make me slap myself periodically.
Not smelling anything (yet) – olfactory hallucinations – but those are probably what’s up next on the Manic menu.
Writing writing writing
And so I write. Here, in my work blog, in Facebook. The words tumble out of my fingers even when I am meditating trying to sleep. I cannot keep them still as they search for a keyboard upon which to create.
This is the part of the Mania that keeps me from telling my doctor or taking more Risperdal because the deliciously creative period would be fleeting and, right now, the negativity of hallucinations is balanced by the verbosity of my words.
I’m pretty upset as I write this. I’ve known I spent money during the Mania… enough that I am in quite a hole I cannot seem to climb out of… but I did not know how much.
I could have gone and looked at my bank statement when I realized the money was gone so I knew where it went, but I was sticking my head in the sand, ashamed of what I had done… too embarrassed to even disclose it to myself.
But I found a pile of Blu-Ray DVDs 3 days ago; all 6 seasons of Northern Exposure and Season 1 of St. Elsewhere. I’m enjoying Northern Exposure (am on Season 5 now), it being one of my fave shows of all time, but I cannot help wishing I had the $400 back instead.
Today, I decided to be brave… and humble… and go look at the accounting of my spending during the Mania. It isn’t pretty. I didn’t have lots of new things in my small space, so was baffled what I could have spent the money on.
Apparently, I was benevolent.
Not needing to share the organizations I picked… I’ll just say I chose ones who were either in Syria or were attending to Syrian Refugees. 3 different ones.
1 of them twice.
Trying to put the pieces together, I looked here in the blog and, as the Mania was ascending, I had written about my utter horror and distress about the Middle East. Clearly, it affected me deeply considering the amount of money I donated very soon after writing those posts. There is no way I could say, “I wish I had the money back,” but I still wince seeing how much I sent out.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to not have that happen again. As far as I know, I didn’t tell a soul I had done it. If I had, maybe someone could have questioned me? I have zero recollection of spending anything during that time. I don’t have anyone to watch over my finances (which Zack used to do). I don’t have credit cards, but spent everything I had plus more I had in the bank, so can’t even cut up cards to try and save myself from me.
I’m lost. Maybe someone will have some good ideas for not having that happen again?
You know that sound they make? That incessant buzzing?
That’s what I feel like.
And in perpetual motion.
I don’t know who I think I am fooling when I sneakily “forget” to take the Risperdal. Up for 25 hours, trying to sleep periodically and feeling like I am electrically charged, getting back up again a few minutes later.
I’m somewhat productive, writing posts for work and here, organizing my Kindle music library, pulling things out of drawers and stuffing them into garbage bags, but I feel sad all at the same time. Not that wonderful, blissful feeling of the last few weeks. My therapist, just like my Psychiatrist, reminded me that it was not all that “blissful” and my mind is playing games with me.
TAKE THE FREAKIN’ RISPERDAL.
I hadn’t been to therapy in a couple three weeks because I was working with the doctor instead. It’s almost an hour to get there and the prospect of taking that trek twice in one day was too daunting. I did it today, but probably shouldn’t have.
I barely remember anything we talked about, knowing I wouldn’t even as my lips were moving. The whirring so loud in my head and coursing through my body.
What I remember is that I need to honor my Self and take my meds every day and on time.
Hallucinations have shifted. The tactile ones are all but gone, the olfactory ones haven’t returned since starting the Risperdal and the visuals are much less… smaller… less intense. The last nasty one was when a roach crawled out of my Diet Coke can onto my face (it was not real) and I threw the can across the room. That was… 2 nights ago? 3 now? Otherwise, the shadows are pretty small… more translucent. I haven’t had an auditory hallucination in over a week.
Even though all those horrible hallucinations have all but abated, I am sad I am not filled with energy like I have been. I feel like a sloth now… it taking inordinate amounts of energy to do anything. Still not sure if I am dipping down into depression or not. I see the Psych in the morning and will run it by him.
Medications At the Moment
Risperdal 2 mg at bedtime
Meds from ER Visit & GI Doc
Bentyl – finished (not sure it did anything)
Cipro – finished in the morning; feel MUCH better in my abdomen, diarrhea gone, suspected UTI gone
Lomotil – haven’t picked it up from the Pharmacy yet, but didn’t need it after the Cipro
Probiotics bid – helps keep the yeasties at bay with the Cipro
Work & Sleep
I’ve been back to work 2 days in a row now. Luckily, we can log in and log out whenever we want/need to, so when I get tired, I just log out and take a nap. I spent 3 days barely able to function as things slowed down. I felt like my brain was stuttering and I never knew, from one minute to another, whether I would be able complete a call or need to crash asleep, so I pretty much listened to music, did some work writing and watched Netflix or Amazon.
My hair-trigger anger seems to have settled some as well, but when I get upset, it is over-the-top, but simmers down quicker than it would have a week ago.
I’ll write more after seeing the Psych and my therapist tomorrow.
I joined MoodTracker this morning and have been inputting my meds and moods (thank goodness for writing things in the blog!). I had no idea I was struggling for so long. I’d been “productive” for probably 6 weeks before I started writing the distress on these pages, but had no idea, until writing it down just how long I have been trying to find balance.
Now I feel useless. I cannot concentrate… or stay awake… long enough to work. I am irritable as shit. Hair-trigger anger. I need to work so bad… the pay period ends tomorrow… but I cannot keep 2 thoughts together long enough to take even a 15-minute call.
And as if the mental crap wasn’t enough, the pain in my upper right abdomen. Fuck. I am tired of hurting.
What to Do Instead of Work…
… or read or watch TV or watch a movie or clean anything or focus for more than 2 minutes at a time?
The only thing I have found is listening to Disney music.
Disney is as much in my blood as my Dad’s Cuban heritage is.
I am sleeping 12-15 hours a day. Deep, deep sleep that leaves me groggy. I have not taken a Trazodone to sleep for 4 days now, just the Risperdal. I also re-added the Cymbalta and Wellbutrin (that was in the plan) to see if that would help me be more awake.
While I don’t feel like I have fallen into a depression, per se, I feel like this drawing… somewhat submerged… when, a few days ago, I was a colorful bird zipping and zooming over the meadow.
My body hurts so bad again. It was glorious to not feel pain for a few weeks. I am back to my plodding productivity cycle.
It feels like I am waving good-bye to a beloved friend who doesn’t have the Internet with which to keep in touch.
Intellectually, I know it is right to send the Mania on its way… all I have to do is read the past posts to see how terrifying the hallucinations were… which do remain, but on a physically smaller scale.
I am left with needing to sleep many hours a day, not being productive, in pain, have zero desire for sex and still having a completely scrambled brain that makes work almost impossible.
I, on the other hand, have been an up-down-up-down-sideways crazy person.
For fuck’s sake already.
I am really trying to be patient waiting for the meds and Manic cycle to even out, but in the meantime, my poor friends. Gads. They are bearing the brunt of my bizarre behavior. Giddy happy (said in a sing-song voice) one minute, then dark and brooding the next ( almost whispered in ominous bass tones). How they cope with my craziness is beyond me, but goddess love them, they are still hanging around. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they just skittered away, blocking me from their lives forevermore. Yet, they remain.
I have been up and down (har) with sleep. I will be awake for 23 hours, then sleep for 5. I took a 2-hour nap yesterday, without meds, and then was up another 20 hours, taking meds to get myself to sleep at 5am this morning. I was back up at 8am. Probably not enough sleep, but I am completely energized. (Or manic, however you want to say it.)
I’ve considered writing out a schedule, but now I think I am teetering on that Hypomanic State where it feels “normal”… not psychotic UP and not burying your soul down. I am in that so so good, without nasty hallucinations, pero conbastante energía… place.
I know some believe (and it is confirmed by Dr. Google) that Hypomania only occurs with Bipolar 2, but I will beg to differ. Over the years, I’ve had several episodes of Hypomania that created reams of articles and posts.
Where I am at the moment is a-WAKE, feeling positive. The hallucinations are on the periphery (not literally)… not terrifying, but not flowery, either. I can pretty much brush anything I see or feel aside… inconsequential gnats.
My written words are flowing easily. I am not spending money I don’t have (an enormous shift from the past 2 months). I have 18 half-finished posts calling my name; I want to do all of them at once.
And then there is talking to clients. I am still too speedy with them, talking over them, a huge no-no in phone sex work. My kids could even hear the difference when they called last night before the hurricane.
Talking to my kids and former partner Zack, I sobbed through the calls, acting like the hurricane was a freakin’ tornado about to take me from all of them. The tears come and go randomly. Have for 4 days now.
I know the goal is balance and that will probably come with a more regulated schedule.
I am just not ready yet. I don’t want to slow things down. Not yet. I feel too good.
I cannot remember the last time I slept 7 hours in a row. Well, I am on Lasix for the swelling from the Risperdal, so had to pee twice (and almost didn’t make it to the toilet I was so deep in sleep!), but fell right to sleep again, which is also weird for me.
I’ve been up since 4am and no hallucinations so far. Very odd. Nice, but odd.
As I have said several times, I have not researched the Mania stuff because I want to experience it instead of anticipating what might come next. But the bizarre nature of the two hallucinations where I was kicked & grabbed scared me so much I had to ask the Psych where the heck those came from. (I still have not researched, not sure I want to yet.)
He explained that the mind in Mania is like a record on 78 (fast, for you youngsters). Skipping grooves randomly. The grooves being fears & memories. Usually scary memories.
How the brain knows to tap only into the shit thoughts is beyond me, but it seems to do that.
My Hallucinations’ Origins
My Fears: Rats & roaches. HATE them both. Intensely. I sat on a rat and killed it once. (Through a couch cushion, but still.) And roaches are fucking everywhere in Florida. It was delightful to not have them in San Diego, but gads, trying to avoid them here is amazingly difficult. (I am meticulous in my room, so if there is even one crawling under the door… it is DEAD.)
Memories: I am open about having been raped (at 18) and molested as a child. When I told the doc about the aggressive hallucinations, he asked me what I had been discussing in therapy lately. I had no idea why he was asking, but told him we were working on trans issues with my former partner Zack… and we’d talked about when I had a pretty long discussion about rape one night with someone else recently. He said, “That would be it.” I was confused and he said the mind grabs those scary thoughts and memories and “acts them out.” I was pretty floored and have thought about it a lot since yesterday.
Where to Go From Here
I am tempted to look the mechanism up, but am still wanting to just stay in the moment until the whole episode is past.
Hurricane Matthew is on its way, so I am out to Costco this morning, then back to work (been on since 4am; no calls yet) afterwards. Hope I get lots of calls today.
Yesterday was so awesome. Filled with energy and no hallucinations. I took two short naps, but didn’t take my Risperdal until 2am because I’d moved into a new day without seeing it happen and I was still wicked high on energy.
From Awesome to Terrifying
Well, I did have a few images/tactile sensations trying to invade around 8pm.
After I took the 4mg Risperdal at 2am, I was making my bed after having done the laundry during my frenzy and when I bent over to put the sheet on the back corner, some-one/thing fucking kicked me onto the bed. I thought I was being robbed! I fell and whirled around and nothing was there. I rubbed my ass it hurt so much. I started crying, got back up, put the sheet on and moved to grab the pillows off my chair and some-one/thing grabbed my upper arm; I could feel the fingers digging in. No one/thing was here. These were, by far, the most aggressive hallucinations I’d ever felt. Scared the bejeezus out of me. I put Bear McCreary’sOutlander music on and quickly jumped into bed and under the covers. I breathed with Raya Yarbrough as she sang the Skye Boat Song and eventually fell asleep.
Today, however, has been entirely different than the delightful highs of yesterday.
I seem to have an emotional mechanism… a gauge, if you will… that can instantly detect where my emotions are at any given time. Today I woke up feeling… sad? Dejected? Off?… I sighed knowing today was going to be tough. And it has been.
I have struggled to type. Normal words come out spelled as a homophone of themselves. “Brake” comes out “break”… “flee,” “flea.” Frustrating as crap having to go back and edit over and over… not something I often have to do.
I did take calls, but could feel that too-fast mind on overdrive and had to really harness the energy so I didn’t talk over clients. One caller in particular spoke at a gentle pace and I could feel myself tromp tromp tromping on some of his words (and I could feel his frustration as well), so I was really strong with my voice and stopped doing it. The call went smoother and he was very happy in the end. (It was less than 15 minutes long, so I only had to control myself for a mere few minutes.)
I’m overwhelmed and need to lay down. Do I take my meds and sleep? Do I just rest for awhile? I cannot even make a simple decision like: Should I drink water or Diet Coke. (No comments from the peanut gallery with your opinions!) Back in awhile.
I went and cried in bed thinking about today.
As the sun went down, I began to break apart more. Tears, laughter, morose, frustration. A couple of the guys annoyed the fuck out of me so I decided, with check-in, that I was a tad over-reacting and best email with them in the morning instead of tonight. Apparently I shouldn’t have screamed my head off in anger (in my room) when I was called “Sweetheart” in an email.
Oh, and the news. I am not supposed to watch or read the news. I am even trying to stay out of Facebook a lot so I don’t get dragged down by the horrible things going on. But I caught a whiff of the tragedy (understatement) in Aleppo and went to read what was happening. I have barely stopped crying since. And then all the Trump shit? It’s just too much. Too, too much.
Reaching Out for Help (Again)
When I had my second “break-down” in 1998, my dear friend who introduced me to the Internet (on New Year’s Eve 1994), along with my two lovers at the time, took me to the doctor where I was diagnosed (finally) with Bipolar Disorder 1 and put on a cocktail of meds that began my life of being medicated to keep me sane.
So tonight, as I felt my mind was disintegrating, I called my friend who understands in more ways than most in my life. She listened as I explained what was going on (hallucinations, physically shaking with electric energy and occasional jolts, crying, laughing, anger, despair) and she helped me decide to see the doctor again tomorrow instead of next week. No suicidal ideation at all, but the feeling like my mind is going to spill out of my ears onto the floor is so enormous, I am sorely tempted to go to the hospital, but know all they would do would be put me in and I don’t want that. (For me, the hospital represents HELP!… a long-ingrained midwifery belief.)
I am just going to watch something inane and work on my Picture Files.
I promised those in my life: NO NEWS & CALL DOC in the morning.
I took a 45 min nap and slept really well. I have been taking calls and I don’t feel like I am screaming loudly or talking too fast… what is this? Is this the trip down?
As I said, I haven’t had a manic episode since 1998 and was nearly psychotic then. Not sure if I have been this time… suspect it will be determined in retrospect.
I took another nap, but just saw my first hallucination of the day.
I can feel the productivity waning.
I Googled Bipolar Mania Cycle to read what might be happening, but stopped because I think I would rather write and read after the fact instead of anticipating or reacting to something I’ve seen on some Psychology site. So I closed the tab.
When in therapy, it is a common analogy to use the onion to describe the process of “peeling away layers” of experiences and feelings that one comes across over the months & years (and decades!). I find the onion too tearful and have chosen instead the nautilus.
Inside the nautilus are chambers.
A newly hatched nautilus begins life with about four chambers and develops an average of 30 chambers by adulthood.
Humans do that chamber-growth sorta thing, too.
I find the analogy much more appropriate than a stinky onion.
As I write, I can feel myself feeling more and more weird. The hallucinations are increasing. Shadows… the bugs are beginning (visually)… nothing tactile or auditory yet, but those are coming. I can feel the aura like I did last night.