Hiatus over??

Well it was a forced hiatus. Sorry I was away for a whole bloody year and more, but I have been reading and keeping up with all you amazing bloggers surviving and (somehow) thriving and being generally inspirational 🙂

I was super ill. I had a massive manic period, followed by a bout of deciding to stop eating, followed by getting better and realising that I had to do something to get my family out of the trap we’d found ourselves in, so I returned to work. Fuck mental health my god if there is anything that will put a person into poverty – which yes, exists in in developed countries too, all things being relative – it is shitty mental health.

Did I also mention I melted off my hair nearly a year ago? I was trying to go blue and made the mistake of leaving the bleach on for too long. So as well as feeling like crap I had Doc from Back to the Future hair for ages (well I still do but at least I can tie it back into a pony tail now!). I literally did not leave the flat for 4 months till I had to at Christmas.

So far so good ish? It’s a senior role, it’s tough and I have been in floods of tears and had to take days off when I just could not get out of bed, but I am doing it and have lasted beyond six months in a role for the first time in Fundraising since I was 30 (I am 38 this year – actually in less than a week). I have so much I want to share on my blog and so many ideas for things I want to do – but the good thing is that I am on Fluoxetine which has helped with the crippling anxiety and paranoia I was getting on top of the lithium and quetiapine, and we stopped psychotherapy because regressing was was actually making me worse.

We are MOVING HOUSE which such a big deal I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have come close to committing suicide because of our horrendous neighbours (and you know, it is serious not just an expression – their shit dance music is blaring and keeping my baby awake as I write but NOT FOR MUCH LONGER WOOOO). Once I am into my new house, hoping work does not kick my ass too much and so on, I want to return to this blog properly.

The most important thing is that my beautiful baby girl is thriving and doing so amazingly well. I am proud to say she is a typical toddler now at 2 and so gorgeous she makes my heart burst every time I look at her. So, more to follow, I will return to this slowly. Thanks for hanging in there with this blog of mine 🙂

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Alcohol – The Cure for Social Anxiety

This is a very thought provoking and excellent article. I come from a country where it’s almost a rite of passage into adulthood to begin to get legless at a very young age indeed. I was 14 when I first got drunk (to this day the smell of Southern Comfort turns my stomach). It’s also ingrained into British culture, going to the pub, meeting friends, grabbing something to eat. Weekends away hiking with various pub stops along the way. Drinks after work almost every night. Weekends out to the club, doing shot after shot of tequila. And this would be after a day on the beach drinking beer. And as I got older, cook dinner for friends and bring a bottle. Have a glass of wine when I got in. Once in a while is fine. For me, this was turning into every day around a bottle.

My life revolved around alcohol. When I was manic I wouldn’t eat. I dropped a huge amount of weight and my calorie intake came from booze and my staying power from cigarette after cigarette. I don’t actually know how I held a job down, looking back. I would never have called myself an alcoholic but I was on the slippery slope. I never needed a drink to get through the day but boy did I look forward to the one I could have as a reward for making it through.

What I didn’t realise at the time was the crippling paranoia and anxiety I had the next day was caused by alcohol. I would wake up and not be able to physically move as I was bombarded by all the supposedly hideous things I had done the night before. Wave after wave of self – hatred would hit me, making the anxiety even worse.

It wasn’t till I met DH, who has never had alcohol aside from once and hated it, and moved to a country where alcohol is not so ingrained in the fabric of social life, that I realised I had a bit of an issue. With my dependency on it to have a good time, and not being able to cope the next morning. Between living here and then being pregnant, I don’t think I have had a drink drink for nearly two years. The two times I did I was a walking ball of paranoia the next few days – it didn’t just last one day.

These days, I do enjoy the odd glass of very good red or white wine. I have a weakness for New Zealand red in particular! I do notice that, even after one glass, it makes my mental health problems much worse. I wake up and I cannot breath I am in the grip of such severe anxiety. So is it worth it? For me, not really. It means I can squander those extra calories on something else 🙂

800 Recovery Hub Blog

Social anxiety is the fear of  situations that involve interacting with other people. It is also worrying about being negatively judged and evaluated by others. This disorder is chronic and causes problems in almost all areas of a person’s life.

Since alcohol can reduce stress, it is a quick and easy solution ….

Correct. Occasionally unwinding with alcohol isn’t necessarily dangerous if your doctor approves. The problem is that once you start drinking, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol. This

Social Anxiety Association Learn more at the Social Anxiety Association website.

can make anxiety and stress even more difficult to cope with.

According to Healthline: At first, drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off your troubles. It can even help you feel less shy. You might experience a boost in mood, and the overall result is relaxation. In fact, the effects of alcohol can be similar to those of anti-anxiety…

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Tired. Tired. Tired. Did I mention I’m tired?

Here’s a post I was in the middle of typing when pregnant, around March I think, and then never got around to finishing. So I have finished it now. It might be useful for those ladies considering an increased dose of their medication during pregnancy 🙂 I do talk about thoughts of death, paranoia and suicide in the context of adjusting medication so please don’t read on if that could trigger you in any way. 

I’m sorry it has been some time since I last posted. I have been surprisingly busy and I find these days my brain can only process one thing at a time.

It has been a nice time. I have done job interviews, unexpected as I am so big now people need a periscope to look around me. I’ve seen friends. I’ve hung out at home with the dog. I’ve helped DH with his studies and even picked up my own books once or twice. The online book thing is going well. I’ve had a TON of appointments at hospital.

And I have not slept. I’ve had my medication upped twice in the last three weeks.

Insomnia is a killer for anyone at the best of times. When you’re lugging round an extra 20 kilo and your lithium levels are falling then it becomes a playground for dark creeping thoughts in the middle of the night.

I was very resistant to my medication being increased the first time round. I’ve got a little one to think of inside me. I am the kind of girl who deals very well with a lithium count of 0.4-0.5ish. I don’t deal well at the higher end of the range. I was therefore pretty upset at the thought of more drugs.

As it turns out it is, of course, fine. Basically the volume of fluid in your body increases, which in turn then decreases the potency (for want of a better word) of the lithium in your blood stream. I was reading at 0.2 which is basically nothing. But, because I was irrational and tired and lacking in hormones, I didn’t make the connection to a dip in lithium altering my perceptions. It wasn’t until I was sat with my psychiatrist that I realised all those thoughts of having a suicide pact with DH so he wouldn’t die before me were not in the normal way of thinking.

Because those thoughts weren’t along the lines of ‘oh, I’m going to kill myself now’, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was normal to plan my death, and because I was thinking waaaaay ahead into the future, such as in my sixties and seventies when it might have happened naturally at some point anyway, I didn’t see a problem with it. I created elaborate schemes in my head about euthanasia (legal in The Netherlands), car crashes, train accidents, travelling somewhere where there was a high incidence of plane crashes, so I wouldn’t have to live if DH died before me when I was old.

I also had increased anxiety, and DH retrieved me from the supermarket a couple of times as I couldn’t cope with the amount of people around me. I started, for the first time, to understand what paranoia in bipolar really meant. I was convinced that people walking past me on the street were about to come and do me harm, and that I couldn’t trust the doctors and nurses in the hospital to do what was right for me.

All of it, my psychiatrist assured me, was completely not normal thinking. And all that was because of a dip in my lithium levels.

What was impressive to me was the rapid turnaround in my thought process once they increased my lithium. Eventually I went up to 1000mg per day spread out over five lots of 200mg. It was amazing how much better I started to feel again. What I found as well towards the end of my pregnancy was how high they wanted to keep my lithium count – as high as possible – to avoid any potential psychotic episodes immediately after the birth. I really am a girl who doesn’t do so well on a higher count, so it goes to show how massive the changes in my body were that being around the 0.8 mark was absolutely fine for me in my last month or so.

Throughout all of this, my baby, of course, was completely 100% unaffected by it. They are tough little creatures, babies, designed to survive some pretty extreme conditions. As an expectant mother none of that matters whatsoever so there is no point in trying to reassure yourself in that way!

I have also resolved to not be one of those mothers that dishes out completely useless advice. Unless you’re the one living it, it’s almost impossible to understand what someone is going through, so therefore the only thing to do is emphathise (as a bipolar mum to be you are not alone) and offer a shoulder of support. The only advice I will give is keep an eye on those lithium levels. If you start to suddenly see the sky turning purple with pigs serving champagne, find yourself plumbing the darkest parts of your brain, doom scenarios marching through on a frequent basis at 3am, or even convinced that the old lady in the apartment opposite you has a incredibly sophisticated camera setup just to record your every move with the ultimate aim of taking your baby away (yes, that was me to the last two), then please get to your GP or psychiatrist asap and talk it out. Cortisol is not good for our growing little ones and particularly not for you.

So, to sum up:

– monitor your lithium every week or two weeks, following your doctor’s advice to the letter
– try and sleep as much as possible. Rest during the day. Take it easy. Get someone else to do the hoovering/housework/walk the dog

And that’s it 🙂 Having a successful pregnancy on medication can be done and I am very glad I continued with my lithium.