7 Days and Counting…

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It’s been a whole week since I stopped my Abilify. I feel ok. Dare I say good? I might be on the upswing, or in Bipolar terms, on the very outskirts of a manic phase. Which is very common for me when coming down from any mood stabilizer or medication that treats it.

I know the signs right away… enhanced energy, excitability, irresponsibility with finances, wanting to go everywhere all the sudden, making plans I won’t do, feeling like rainbows are pointing on me, etc…

While mania can feel good, and I’m quoting a fellow blogger I follow and admire here… “the higher you go, the harder you crash.” So mood charting and trying to keep myself as level as possible is imperative right now.

Aside from that I feel ok. I am loving that my appetite has so dramatically decreased since coming off the Abilify. It was SOOO aggressive and nonstop while I was on it. I ate literally everything I could put my hands on, and snacked constantly. It obviously had consequences. Since coming off of it; I now eat “normally” for me, and the snacking has gone way down. I eat my little breakfast, a healthy lunch, and sometimes I eat dinner, but often I’m not hungry, which is the norm for me. I generally don’t have a very high appetite, and often do little meals throughout the day versus three meals. My health coach advised the little ones would actually be healthier for me versus three big ones, as long as I wasn’t eating junk food, which I am not… any more.

While I’m somewhat concerned about the state of my mental health in coming days; I still don’t regret my decision to come off the Abilify. I needed to get my physical health back in order… so here is hoping I stay level and don’t have any “crashes” anytime soon!

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Pensive Tuesday

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To what do we owe one another? Kindness? Love? Respect? Or do we just go through our lives treating others the way they treat us? It is something I have often ruminated over as I have gotten older.

*I recently became afflicted with a “The Good Place” binge fest on Netflix and there is a lot of ethics and philosophy teachings on there…. and it just got me thinking.*

Health Check

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Annual screenings. They are important to get each year as they tell many things from blood pressure all the way to cancer screenings. I just had mine recently, which recently included my very first Pap test. Yes, at 34 years old I’ve never had one. Why my PCP didn’t find it necessary I have no idea. I mean it’s sole purpose is to screen for cervical cancer, muy importante!! I was at the clinic funded through my job (County has lots of perks) and it was tossed into my physical. I’m glad I had it done, and now it will be a yearly thing.

We discussed everything from my stress levels and mental health all the way to my constant heartburn, which I’m glad she hopefully found a solution to. I was getting worried I had acid reflux issues, but it might be because of the weight gain. It makes sense, because when I was smaller I don’t remember having this bad of a heartburn problem. Generic Prilosec is being sent to my house, and even better? It’s free!

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get these checks. While mine was pretty uneventful… well aside from my ears being a little raw and infected… I still walked away with a pretty clean bill of health. Pap test results pending obviously. It’s good to know the simple things like blood pressure, how your heart is doing, and where your weight is at. I almost cried when standing on the scale, but that will change soon enough.

We only get one life, so it’s important we take care of it.

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All About Balance

My return to exercise and yoga class was triumphant today, as I made my awkward appearance at the Y for yoga. I forgot how incredibly unbalanced I am, and how much I hate squats. BUT I did really feel in the moment during class, and especially at the end when the instructor had us meditate.

Returning was hard though. I haven’t been to yoga or in my routines since I had COVID back in 2021, early November. Then my aunt was hospitalized with it and I was still finishing out my semester, plus work… there was just no room for anything else. So I got out of shape real fast. Then the Abilify gave me a wicked and aggressive appetite. Can you say hello to a 32lb weight gain? I’m currently on day three of no Abilify and already noticing an appetite decrease (loving it.)

Trying to get all my priorities straightened out since the big upset in my routines, and exercise has been the hardest one to get back to. I walk as much as I can, take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, drink TONS of water (thank you Cirkul!) and even have a yoga app on my phone. I do crunches and stretching at night to help juice up my workouts. Ontop of that; I also cook at home more, have almost cut out soda completely, and rarely eat fast food now… and guess what? I don’t really miss it.

It’s all about finding the balance. Whether it be in my yoga class, with my water intake, diet, or even work/student life. I feel like I’m walking that beam every day. Won’t lie, it’s utterly exhausting… but extremely rewarding in the end 🙂

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My Panic Grows Manic

Yesterday evening I had a mini panic episode in the car on the way home from work. No reason. It just struck with no warning.

Anxiety/Panic disorders are a beast. Even with medications. I manage mine with 3, one that I take 2x a day, one at night, and then the other is take as needed. I couldn’t exactly pop one while I was behind the wheel, so tough break. I may need to talk to my psych and ask her to adjust the main one a bit; I feel as if my anxiety has been off the charts lately. My stress levels have been a bit more trying too, which is only adding fuel to the fire.

I often feel as though I am locked in a box and cannot breathe, and as much as I scream to be let out, no one hears me. My panic attacks feel like a heart attack… chest pains, chest tightness, hard to breathe, light-headed, nauseous, the whole nines. They strike at any time, whether it be at work, home, in the car, or in the middle of the night. A fun one was when I was vacuuming the house and suddenly I ended up on the floor unable to breathe… and obviously my use of “fun” is sarcasm.

I try and use Grounding. Which I did do yesterday, where you think of things you can see, hear, smell, touch, etc. It works a majority of the time, and is a nice alternative to using medication. I’ll admit it hasn’t been working as well as before, but my anxiety wasn’t as bad in prior months. Maybe I’m building up an immunity to my medication, or it just needs to be adjusted, who knows. All I know is my panic is a little manic right now, and it’s making me crazy.

Panic attacks behind the wheel aren’t good or safe, so I hope I get some relief soon.

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Cheated

The more I progress in school the angrier I get.

I had such dreams when I was kid. College was always this far away place I would some day go to where parents couldn’t reach and I could finally bloom into the incredible woman I was meant to be. Not the awkward teenager who wore one color and was currently being abused and cut down by her mother. My hopes and dreams were not my mother’s though… she didn’t expect me to graduate high school (which I didn’t, thanks to her) much less make it to college. So she didn’t invest in my future, and basically told me I better start looking for a job so I could help provide for the family, which really was code for, “I’m going to take all your paychecks and use them for cigarettes, my nails, and whatever I please.”

I let my high school years slip through my fingers like oil. I could’ve been an honors student, maybe gotten scholarships and gotten into an Ivy… we’ll never know. My future was already slated to be horrible. It was 50/50. I won’t lay all the blame on her; I could’ve cared more about my grades and kept them up despite what was going on, or told someone at the school about her and home life. It’s just when you hear failure, waste of space, mistake, and “just do me a favor and die already,” so many times you really lose that will to push through and succeed. At some point I started to just give up and believe that I was worthless so I just lived up to the insults… disappointing a lot of teachers, counselors, and tutors along the way. They saw my potential and didn’t understand why I was acting the way I was acting. Should I have said something? Yes. I just knew how bad it would be if I did, because as it was she was already kicking me out every other day and forcing me to bunk with friends.

This bright shimmering future I once clung so tightly to was now darkening and becoming a hard knot in my chest. I was sad, and angry. By the time I went to stay with my stepfather the damage to my schooling was permanent and no amount of tutoring, extra credit, or extra classes could correct it. I hated her, no, correction, I still do.

All these years later, now that I’m in my thirties, and yes I know there’s no shame in going back to college at ANY age, but nonetheless this isn’t the timeline I wanted. As I progress I face decisions and I realize none of these choices would be an obstacle for had I had a normal childhood with a mother that wasn’t, uh well should I say, Satan? I feel cheated. Missing out on not only a childhood and my teenage years, but also a life after that I wanted. Instead of going right into college; I had to seek psychiatric help and go straight to work. I’ll never be able to study abroad with my job; I won’t have that ability… and that was always a HUGE dream. Don’t you ever just wish you could rewind and change things? I do and then I don’t. Because if I change things then I won’t know the people I do now and I refuse to sacrifice that… so learning to live with this burning anger of mine? It’s a process.

It’s just frustrating. She never paid for any of it. None of it. The lies, manipulation, abuse, abandonment, and cheating me out of half my life. Maybe she’s not alive, and that’s a price, but did she really pay for it? Was her dying young the ultimate price after trying to take the life of her daughter? Maybe we’ll never know. The universe has a way of finding the balance.

I just want to wake up and not feel angry or cheated. Help me out universe.

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I said… STOP

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I made the choice today to stop taking my Abilify.

It’s not because of my fear of TD, which does bother me, but more for the side effects which have been bothering more over the last couple of years of being on it. It’s not easy living the Bipolar life, but even more so when on top of the illness itself you also have to deal with medication side effects.

At first, Abilify was great! I was feeling better, mood swings were down, self-harming wasn’t happening as often, and I felt more in control of myself than ever. That was year one. However; I noticed that slowly creeping up was my weight. At first it was a harmless 5lbs, and then ten, and then 15. Problem was even with diet management and exercise it wasn’t coming off. Now it’s come all the way to a whopping 32lbs. Which on a girl that’s only 5″5 with a small frame, is a lot.

Year two slowed a lot. Self-harming picked up more, mood swings kicked back up, and the weight gain really boomed. I started to feel numbed out and uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t cry, like at all. Which a lot of you probably think, “well what’s wrong with that?” A lot. I’m not naturally a crier no, but when I have a huge meltdowns I cry to get it out. Now I can’t even properly express inner turmoil and emotion. So instead of crying; I cut. The cutter in me comes out to play and well we all know how that story ends.

It’s not like I wanted to have issues. I wanted this medication to work. I knew there would be side effects, and at first I was willing to pay the price for them. But now I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without feeling ashamed of myself, nor can I stand the feeling of constant hunger than plagues me. I also can’t handle that my highs and lows are now out of control again, which puts me back to square one. I’m not saying NO to all medications, but I definitely need one that hopefully won’t mimic what the Abilify did. More importantly I need to give my body a little time to reset to it’s natural balance.

I still need my psychiatrist to give her ok on me stopping it; I know it’s never good to just stop an anti-psychotic with no weaning off or anything. Unless you have prior approval. Hopefully she says yes. I don’t feel right, ok, or anything good on this medicine.

For anyone else who’s been in my shoes with side effects; I feel you.