I have Bipolar II and Panic and Anxiety and am also a 10 years sober memner of AA. I nearly y lost my life last year at my own hand, 5 day coma, psychosis etc. My mental illnesses have ripped my life apart - lost a great career, lost my own home and family and friends have bailed as it's such a chore being around a person who has daily suicidal ideation for years (7 years of which was because the psych profession mis-prescribed me and from which I am still trying to bring my shattered mind and life back together). I am now in the Disability Pension which is under the Poverty Line.
I did also have to turn a few family members away as they will not do as I have and get sober/clean and seek psych help. I can't possibly deal with the burden of my own illnesses and theirs as well - if they were trying to actively help themseleves that would be different. So, I am profoundly isolated, which is couter-intuitive to getting well - all the psychotherpay models say to get well one must tap into social support networks, but not everyone has one.
I have been suffering terrible Insomnia for several months and if anyone with a similar diagnosis to me and who has also experienced long term Insomnia knows, it is devastating and escalates the mental illnesses. It also prevents me from engaging in life-building activities where I would meet like-minded people and maybe make friends - Catch 22. I plan and pay for activities and just ahve to cancel cancel cancel. It's soul destroying and corroding to my self esteem. I used to be a professional in the work forse and I had three tertiary qualifications. All to nought now.
I am without hope and in active planning to end it. If I do go in next week, we will be able to increase my Lamictal to the therapeutic dose much more quickly because I will be under observation by the psych nurses and my psychiatrist for dangerous side effcets, which my psychologist explained would not be able to happen for me at home. It will take MONTHS for me to get up to the therapeutic dose and I don't have months. I am prepared to take action very soon, I have concrete plans in place etc. And she knows that - she knows I'm not calling for attention, but totally serious about ending it.
We discussed taking me fully off Lithium too, as taking the Thyroxine for the Thyroid, which is wrecked because of the Lithium, could be the primary cause of the Insomnia. I have been off Thyroxine for about 2 weeks, but the Doc says it has a long half-life in the body.
We have also discussed ECT, which I am totally amenable to and have told them that. I am prepared to accept the possibility of memory loss because I am a dead woman walking anyway. So we'll see about that.
And another important factor is being looked after in the hospital. I don't have a single person to help me on a day to day basis and being in an environment where people are there to look after me could be a big circuit breaker.
The Insomnia is SO BAD, that the other night I had the full 800mg Seroquel I am allowed, plus 2x5mg Valium Tablets during the day and two Temazapam tablets before bed and I still had scattered sleep. That amount of drugs would stop a Rhino in it's tracks - but not me. So there is something in the whole sceanrio causing me not to sleep.
When are you going in? It sounds like it should be a definite, not a maybe. You need to be some where around people who can keep you safe til this is sorted. I hope you are telling everyone on your team very loudly how you are feeling and that they are listening.
And to let you know, we may not know what we all look like, but I think about the people, in general and specifically, on this board many times throughout the day, mainly because when I'm having a bp moment and I get upset or have a giggle about it, I use you lot for a mental touchstone, and I get strength from having an actuality of people I know- people who know what I go through; or I laugh longer and harder because I know there are others who would understand.
Please understand that you are not alone, I send you love and hugs. We may not be there for you in the conventional way... but we are there for you.
Thanks Mowgli, you are lovely. Since I started on mental health blog sites 12 months ago, I have searched anf then refined and refined which sites I want to particiapte in because let's face it, not all are equal. This sight is closely monitored, which I like. Some sites have no standards at all, so I feel confortable and safe here, and like you, have found people with similar experiences.
I am seeing my psychiatrist and psychologist tomorrow and we'll take it from there. I have worked my tail off to get a good psych team and it scares me to think of some of the incompetent mental health clinicians I have seen who don't give a toss about their patients - it's just a job. So I feel proud that even during periods of extreme illness, I have continued to advocate for myself. And yes, I yell long and loud about how sick I am - I never hold back except for one thing, the exact nature of my plans to end it. But that's just a little mind game of my own as my psychologist agreed the other day that if a person is determined to end it and they have been sick a long time, the psych team won't be able to stop it. The stopping it is in the care that is provided and they are doing 100% the best they can for me.
I went into the psych ward at the hospital on Monday 16 November. I am still a patient but have been allowed to come home for a visit to get my snail mail, email (47 emails, partially because I have dialogues like this on mental health forums going on, but loads of other emails too), home phone messages and mobile phone messages.
The psych ward is very good. It's in a public hospital (I have only ever bee in a private psychiatric hospital before, so was a bit nervous about what it would be like). But as soon as I walked in, I noticed the decor was quite nice looking - that sounds really superficial, but nevertheless it relaxed me. It has been really hard going though. I have such enormous medical (things resulting from the meds), psychiatric and psychological things. I have nearly fainted a couple of times and I hate that because I am not a fainter normally - it's really embarrassing for me. The first time was my first day in when I slugged back some water with my medication, and I fell over sideways and luckily I had a male nurse on each side of me and they caught me and stopped me from falling - it happened again another day. I think it must be because I am in both mental and physical trauma.
Every day I have yet another medical test. I have bloods done nearly everyday (I don't mind needles but I have tiny veins so they have heaps of problems getting in - sometimes several people have to have a go), I've had an ECT (several), MRI or CAT scan on the brain (can't rememember which) and the wopper of them all, an ultrasound on my thryroid was was so painful and invasive, and the Radiographer/Sonographer and her trainee didn't explain anything about it - just plowed on it. I started to cry big time halfway through as all the pain was so unexpected and when I am in medical situations like this I feel very lonely.
My meds are all over the place. The night before I went in I was using Valium to help me sleep on top of the Seroquel (unsucessfully). The next night in the hospital they gave me a different night med which didn't work and the next night after that I was given a different night med again - three different meds on three days. I am having some success with the third. But I am also on other new drugs, reducing other drugs and increasing other drugs, so my cognition ain't so great. But I have been journalling and that has helped me see how overwhleming all this is and that's it's reasonable for me to get upset, be confused etc - both in terms of all the medical and psychiatric stuff.
I get called to all these tests without notice, which they can't help, but still has me in a spin. And I have these meetings (also without notice) with a cast of thousands in terms both medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, other specialisations and often with trainees in all those specialties. They fire both questions and information at me rapid fire and I just have to sit there and try my best and repeat, again and again if I don't understand something they are saying. There is absolutely no room for pride. If I am confused, I have to tell them I am confused.
The psych nurses are extremely good. I've only had a couple of situations where I didn't like the approach of individuals ones, but there's never going to an exact fit between all patients and all psych nurses, and of course they do eight hour rolling shifts so it's hard for me to even remember their names.
The day before yesterday was a VERY BAD DAY. All of the above got on top of me and I juts couldn't see how, even getting better sleep and lessening of depression with the right meds is going to get me a LIFE. I feel I'm back to square one with all the "life enhancing or re-engagement" stuff. We use all the cliches about "A journey of 1000 miles starts with the First Step". But I have done that First Step so many times that I am fed up. And my loneliness is still there - every single patient on my ward has friends and family to help them and be in their life. Of course there is dysfunction there in those relationships, but at least they have people that love them. I was surprised and pleased when my one single friend that I have left called through the hospital switchboard yesterday - from where she lives 350km away. We're not allowed to use our mobile phones at all, or recharge them. I am recharging mine now and can check my messages. It does make it difficult though. I have financial issues happening and I need to communicate with my solicitor who is also 350km away and anyone else. The only way we can have incoming or outgoing calls in to get the nurses to set it all up for you and then you do the calls in little booths beside the nurse's station.
Anyway, I know I'm in the right place right now being in the hospital and I hope it does give me that hand up to get the meds right and all the asscociated medical problems, and then gets my mood stable so that I can participate in life.
I had big news yesterday. My wonderful psychologist, who I worked hard to get, just told me yesterday that she has resigned and is moving to another part of Australia. I'm not devasted as I have recently been going through the constructive thought patterns that while my current mental health team is the best I've ever had - it won't always stay in it's current form - people come and go. She's chosen someone in the team she tihinks will be the best at working with me and I appreciate that. I'm not scared of spening the time and effort to build a new relationship. But I am scared as to whether this new person can help me as much as Tara did.
Teddybear the Cat is in a cat boarding place and I miss her terribly. One of the other patients went and visted her cat, but I won't do that as Teddy will think I'm taking her home and that's not fair.
I'll be in the hospital at least until some time next week, maybe longer as they have said threy won't let me go until the meds are sorted and because it so complex, I hope they do keep me long enough.
We've all been there Wendy to one degree or another, hang in there, my thoughts are with you. Keep us all posted on how you are doing, i'm very concerned about the sleeping patterns. Sleep is critical for everyone especially for bipolar individuals. learning to turn our brain off is not easy and someone should have been working with you to learn how to do this on your own. It can be done but it requires some work.
I am at home now briefly to catch up on snail mail, mail and messages. There is a heap going on with meds (insane changes and new meds, some meds going up some down – it’s a mess), several medical problems because of the meds and therapeutic issues including my profound isolation, which is limiting my capacity to recover – also huge grief issues as well.
The Psych Ward of the Hospital is a very good place with excellent psych nurses. That has been pretty consistent since I got in there and it has been a relatively calm place, aside from patients (including me) having an emotional attack every now and then or a crying jag. But last night a junkie was introduced into the ward (I was told this was a psych ward only – no people coming off major drugs etc.) Well this bloke is off his nut. He has surreptitiously been in nearly everyone’s room – including mine – he has been caught in my room twice. Last night I caught him and politely told him his room is in the other corridor. The second time was this morning when another patient saw him in my room stealing money. He ****** off when he got caught out. He has been in most patients rooms.
But that is the least of it. Last night I was sitting watching TV with another girl, both of us having achieved relaxation after a very harrowing day. This bloke comes past with the Hospital Issue Pyjamas on but only the top – no bottoms. I didn’t know what to do or where to look. But worse still than that, he had taken off the PJ bottoms in the room of a lovely lady of 69 – Johanna, a Dutch lady and left them in her room. She must have been asleep when he took off his pants because she came out later with them and said, “Why are these pyjama pants in my room”. That was bad enough but he was back in there today trying to steal her jeans. She is beside herself with terror and I am extremely agitated about it too. I asked them to lock my door from the outside last night, as this guy is free to roame the corridors – there are no limitations being placed on him. But the trouble is, as hard as it is to deal with the psych nurses checking on you every hour or half hour during the night and clicking to door open, having the door locked from the outside means the psych nurses have to use keys to unlock the door and it is so loud it brings you fully awake every time. One of the main reasons I went voluntarily into hospital is to addressing months-long sleep problems.
I just called the Ward from home to ask are they going to take this guy into High Dependency or not so that I can consider whether to leave the Ward. It will cause me a lot of trouble though, as the other reason I’m in there is to get into the therapeutic range with Lamictal and I am allowed to increase faster in the Hospital, and it will be much slower at home – and have been very suicidal so I do need to get that med in the therapeutic zone. I’m buggered either way. I was assured that this Psych Ward would not have junkies coming in so it’s a mis-representation.
The psych nurse I spoke to completely understated all the above stuff and inferred none of it is my business. Well, it is my business when a man who is clearly coming off drugs and maybe psych problems as well, is COMING INTO MY ROOM. And I’ve been submitted to him wandering the halls without his pants on.
I have left a message with my therapist who is managing my Inpatient stay so I can discuss the pros and cons of leaving the hospital or staying. It is just so difficult.
I'm so glad to hear from you- I was worried about you. It's good to hear that for the most part the stay in has been beneficial for you. Hang in there, I reckon this guy will cause enough problems that too many people will complain and he will be moved, or he will break too many rules and be moved. Just keep complaining to everyone.
I hope the meds are starting to work for you again, especially the bedtime ones. It sounds as though you are getting a bit more sleep?
Keep us up to date as much as you can. Miss reading your posts.
Thanks Mowgli, yes the antics of this man caused so much trouble and upset for all the patients that he has been moved to another facility in another town. But before he left, Geez did it escalate to a terrible situation. On the last night he was in I was told by one the psych nurses that if he was to wander that night they would lock him in his room and give him access to a TV room other other side so he could be moved around.
I was woken at 3.00am with him in my room. Terrified, I put my dressing gown on (I have a long nighty for decency) and shooed him out of my room and went up to the nurse's station and rather than locking HIM in his room, they locked me in mine (I can get out but no-one can get in). But I had little sleep for the rest of the night as they are so noisy with the keys at every check they do.
The same night he had gone into another lady's room and he only had his underpants on and had his hand down his pants. She told me she thought he was going to rape her. He stole so many things, including two different ladies pairs of jeans - and wore one pair around the ward after he had stolen them!! He's gone now but it has taken all the patients several days to come out of the stress of it.
I have had a terrible experience that was initiated by a nosy neighbour. Long story short, a neighbour has noticed I haven't been around my property lately and rather than expressing concerns to her son who is a Police Officer, she went to Bingo where many of my relatives attend and told my relatives I have not been around - in a gossipy way. This neighbour and I have no contact at all except an occasional wave (I mean only every few months if we happen to see each other) so she has no right to spread information about me - we aren't even friends, let alone close enough friends for her to take part in my affairs. She has no investment in my life if you know what I mean. And it has suddenly been made clear that she DOES follow my movements. That makes me laugh because the most exciting thing I would do in a given week would be to put out the garbage - so she muct have a lot of time on her hands!!
This resulted in one relative of mine telling all this to another relative of mine who then came to my property and knocked on all the doors and windows and then called the Police who came to my property and walked all over my property (in uniform, with the squad car there) knocking on doors and windows and I was later told nearly broke in through a window.
They then went back to the station and long story short again, they called the hospital I am in which breached privacy legislation by telling the Police where I was and that I was in the Psych Ward and then the Police broke Privacy legislation by telling my cousin (a woman I am not in contact with) where I was and then she called me on the Psych Ward (I didn't even know who it was on the phone as I am not in contact with any member of my family in the town in which I lived - because they have chosen not to be in contact with me since I came here in July 2008.)
So we have gone from one extreme of people not being in my life and rejecting me for a range of reasons including their fear of my mental illnesses, small town exclusion of people and some who don't want contact with me as they are alcoholics still drinking and I am in AA and that is confronting for them, to bailing right on into my life, to a situation where the gossip machine is in full swing, uniformed Police have combed my property (I live very quietly and responsibly and having Police all over the place is an awful thing for me).
Bingo, which is where all of these exchanges of information happened and started to ball rolling is a gossip machine, I call it a "clearing house for information" - I made my therapist laugh with that one. My stay in hospital, which was utterly private, is now all around town - through no fault of my own. I said to my psychiatrist that having lost pretty much everything due to mental illness, my privacy was a very precious thing to me - especially in a town where people have rejected me - he agreed fully that privacy is a precious commodity. There is not a single person in this town who would have been appropriate for me to tell about my hospital stay.
I am following up on all this because I was to find out for sure whether the Privacy Act has been breached by a Ward Psych Nurse and also the Police. I have also prepared a letter to my neighbour saying in essence, your actions set in motion a series of events that have caused damage to me and (politely) to stay out of my business.
As to my recovery, it is slow going because of these issues and also because the med changes are slow. I will be an Inpatient probably for a week or two longer. I am not suicidal near where I was a few weeks ago. I have enjoyed the company of the patients and nurses. I have a surgical swallowing problem and getting them to give me food I can swallow has been really difficult, even after two weeks and me telling them endlessly. I don't yet have hope for the future, but I am sort of floating, neither here nor there, which is OK with me.
I am back home after 2 weeks in the psych ward. I had myself discharged early as things were going a bit awry on the ward. The proportion of people coming off hard drugs became out of wack (it's supposed to be a psych ward only, but the D&A ward must have been overflowing). The behaviour and things that were being said (I mean explicit deviant sex stuff) was becoming intolerable for me and other psych patients. Things came to a head today when I had more trouble with getting food I can swallow with my surgically related swallowing problems - I'd told the hospital a gazillion times but it seems they're not configured to handle people who need a soft diet. I ended up throwing up violently and it is very distressing psychologically when that, or daily choking happens.
One target has been achieved though - as of tonight I am on the lower end of the therapeutic dose for Lamictal - 200mg - no signs of the rash. They will probably keep moving me slowly up to 300mg as my mood state is still low. My sleep is still very problematic but I will use the sleeper they have given me tonight and for a while, as well as the 800mg Seroquel I use. I don't know yet what the long term plan will be if my sleep stays problematic - it hasn't been worked out yet.
Now for the good stuff. As soon as I got home in a cab, I called the cat boarding house and asked could I come get Teddy Bear the Cat. I haven't even unpacked yet. So off I went, so excited. We found her and Oh, my heart just leapt. I'm sorry all you cat people out there, but Teddy Bear The Cat is the cutest cat in the known Universe. I've fallen in love again after having her for ten years. She is VERY excited to be home and she's cuddlin' and nuzzlin' like there's no tomorrow. (I just let her out her window and she's come back in crying like crazy - she scared herself thinking I'd gone away - that's enough to make me feel loved).
I still see no hope for the future, but I'm sort of just floating in Nowhere Land and that's OK.
I can't imagine how difficult your situation must be. I sympathize with your struggle and the incompetence of so many people who you thought might help. In-patient treatment sound like the best solution, especially since you are dealing with so many problems. You can now focus only on you and getting better. I know if I miss a few days of sleep, my mind is mush, so you must be really beyond it. Lucky for me I am more depressive than manic and have some anxiety. I am being treated with meds for both and have a warm, loving therapist that I see on a regular basis. I totally trust both my medication management doctor and therapist, but it has taken me many years to get here. I never had an alternate plan, like you. But I just discovered a year ago that my son is bipolar also, but he has high mania. YOU AREN'T ALONE. Many of us have gone through life long struggles and still are. There is hope that you will get better. I have attended many meetings that say to lean on your Higher Power, whatever that may be to you. I read literature, meditate, call people in my same situation, write on this board for advice and talk to a therapist. It helps a lot so keep reaching out to us. We do understand and share your roller coast ride.
Thanks Author, I think we have a similar approach. I am 100% compliant with my meds, always have been, do all the therapy work I am offered and more, I research my illnesses and recovery solutions, I do intensive and lifelong work in AA, and I participate in online chats regarding both mental illness and alcoholism.
I am on a new night drug for sleep in addition to 800mg Seroquel. That might sound like a lot, but my system just sucks it up. I wouldn't sleep otherwise. The medicos think that if I get my depression medication right, my sleep might fall into place and we can drop the night meds. I hope so. But regardless, at the moment I am getting more sleep than I have in months, and as you alluded to, the wheels fall off everything when there is extended sleep deficit.
I too have a psychiatrist and a therpaist I trust. I was nearly medicated to death by psychiatrists I have in the past so really do appreciate a psycdoc who both has excellent medication/symptom knowledge as well as seeming to care about me as a patient. I have had to advocate for myself long and hard in the mental health system to get good clinicians. My therapist is moving shortly but I have met the new one and I have warmed to her.
I started in AA nearly 11 years ago and was an Atheist, and was sober from the start. I did eventually have a spiritual experience however I have lost that completely in recent years due to the dramatic life losses that have occured both due to my mental illnesses and also the horrific mis-medication by several psychiatrists for money - which swept away everything in my life and then nearly my life. I am definitely an Atheist, although I do keep the door open for spiritual matters and I certainly live a spiritual life in terms of being honest with myself and others and trying to be of service, as we call it in AA, in my everyday life. I'm comfortable with that status.