Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bi-Polar Disorder and Caffine: What A Miracle!

When my medications are balanced correctly, I am as mentally healthy as the next person. If I decide to be stupid, attempting to stay up for twenty-four-hours, stop my medication, or abuse other drugs. My Bi-Polar Disorder will reassert itself in all of its terrifying glory. It is very hard to remember, when I am feeling well, that, like it, or not, I've got a medical condition which must be monitored and treated with respect.

I have stopped drinking booze for two reasons. First of all, my religious denomination really frowns on it, and I hate leading a "double" life. Also, after even moderate drinking, I experience a mild "let down". Nothing serious, but I got a bit weary with that symptom also.

I'm a committed caffeine addict. I usually have a pot of coffee a day, spread out pretty evenly throughout the day. From my last post, you could see, that I was challenged by my Pastor and basically went to emotional pieces. I flagged this, as a possible warning, that all was not right with my current medication.

I ran out of coffee and just didn't feel like going shopping. But, bless Jesus, I found a stash of coffee! What I didn't realize, was that it was decaffeinated. So, CyberGal went cold turkey off a lot of caffeine all at once. This is NOT a good idea, even if you aren't Bi-Polar. The headaches are killers! But, I blamed them on that wonderful gift from Eve, The Change of Life.

I finally felt well enough to go to church last night, but was drop-dead exhausted after only a few hours. Something was wrong. Serious depression can come on you slowly, or quickly. I went from normal balance to a critical emergency within six hours once. I have done my homework and have plans for various states of dis-ease. My vision was starting to get strange and I was becoming hyper sensitive to pain. These two symptoms are serious markers for me. I figured I'd be going to my HMO within a few days, if I kept feeling so out-of-it.

After a nap today I woke up in serious trouble. My mental ability to logically think was almost completely absent. My vision was getting really fluky and I was having trouble understanding what was being said on the radio. These are the things which happen to me when I need to go to the hospital. I'm not crying, but I'm totally out of it, unable to answer questions, or construct a normal English sentence. Time to get serious.

Before trotting down to my HMO for a seventy-two hour vacation in lock-down, I always make sure I have eaten a good meal and had at least one cup of coffee. I was barely able to make it through giving the waiter my order, but I just bluffed through it, claiming I needed coffee. I ordered a full balanced breakfast with coffee.

I immediately began to sense I was coming out of the funk I had been in. This may not work for everyone who is Bi-Polar, but, it sure worked for me. It was exactly the same "back to normal" feeling I experienced when I returned to my psychiatric medication after being off them for six months.

Being a responsible patient, I've started to "chart" my moods. If I'm "swinging" too much, even if I like the 'up' part, I have to get my medication adjusted. I have to call the shots here. If I change my medication when there isn't a need, I can throw myself into an emotional crisis of being to "up". That's where you think you can cover a semester's worth of work in a few hours!

My doctor has to trust my reporting - until I'm so messed up, that the hospital is an obvious choice. Everyone concerned prefers not to let things get that far out of hand. There is respect on both sides. My doctor knows I'm not playing games and I know my doctor really listens to my feedback. We truly work together. The happy result being, most of the time, I'm healthy.

I thank God for the dedicated folks who invented, tested and produced my medication. The Psychiatric Unit can be a discouraging place. Not all patients who get into trouble live through the battle. When I fully recovered from being off my medication for six months, my doctor got a bit teary. We both knew how close I'd come to not "making it back."

I've also discovered something wonderful about my church. Pastor was attempting to teach me how to "strive toward the mark". First Lady really cleared up my confusion when she shared that, my pain is REAL and they don't expect me to go straight from where I am to having total faith. I don't have to act like a performing monkey. It is okay to learn a new skill. I do want to be delivered from my fears and especially my excessive, I-want-it-all, anger. Once again, those wonderful "old tapes" from the past did not serve me well. I am thankful these folks have a better way. I have hope again, because I'm not afraid of having to be perfect by next Sunday.

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