Put down your clever. Pick up your ordinary.
So I’ve started this post about a hundred different times in my head, putting more and more pressure on myself to create some kind of literary masterpiece instead of just writing about what’s been going on. Then I remembered this quote by Patti Digh, and I finally decided to get some words out of my head and onto my screen.
I have marked a number of milestones over the past 2 years that I do eventually want to write about:
-Fall 2017 was the 10-year anniversary of contracting The Hostile Alien Intestinal Bacteria, my tipping point into fibromyalgia. I also hit the midpoint of my 40s.
-November 2018 was the 10-year anniversary of my fibromyalgia diagnosis.
-June of 2019 was the 10-year anniversary of the birth of Cranky Fibro Girl.
But for now, I’m just going to stick with what cost me all of 2018. In a word: mania.
I’ve written a little bit here about being bipolar but that year it got triggered in a massive way, and it took me the whole year to recover.
Just a wee bit of background. In 2016 we moved back to North Carolina, near two of the state’s best medical schools. This has given me the chance to do a major upgrade on creating my medical team. The doctors I had in Atlanta were good, but the were just a jumble of random people to which I added someone new every time another medical crisis popped up. Now that I’m in one of these networks everyone is connected. All of my doctors have all of my medical information. And, most importantly, I’m now a patient at a pain clinic where everyone believes in the existence of fibromyalgia.
So at the beginning of last year, the P.A. that I see at the pain clinic and I decided to switch me off of a pain medicine I’d been taking for a long time and onto something new. And I was so excited to finally have something new to try after all these years of being sick.
Sadly, it did not help my pain. It did, however, trigger my bipolar disorder, and I went manic in a massive way.
I have Bipolar II, which I guess is sort of the “lesser” version of the disorder. So I don’t have blackouts, or secret second lives. I don’t go out and buy multiple new cars. I don’t have affairs.
My mania is more internally focused. For example, I’ll go into grandiose thinking and decide that I can make tons and tons of money by monetizing my blog, and then sign up for a lots of business classes. Or I’ll get hyper-focused on learning how to cook, so I’ll order piles of new cookbooks and sign up for an online cooking school. I’m happy to say that I no longer binge-eat or binge-spend like I used to. But my thoughts kept spinning more and more. They were racing more than they normally do, and getting more and more constricted. I started dissociating. I was anxious, and frantic, and frenetic.
I did not stop taking my medications. But I did ignore anyone who voiced any kind of concern-right up until I ended up in the emergency room, afraid I was having a heart attack.
Thankfully it was “just” mania and panic attacks. And thankfully I started listening to Lynne, and my P.A. and I immediately began tapering down the medication. But the process took a long, LONG time; all told I was on that medication from February to September. And those months were pretty miserable.
I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few minutes, so I couldn’t follow a plot in a movie, TV show, or book. I lost my ability to do sequential tasks, like follow a recipe. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head for more than a minute or two. I was anxious, and restless, and twitchy all the time, and there was nothing, NOTHING I could do about it but endure it and move through it moment by moment. It was awful.
One of the only things that brought me any relief was to go outside and walk and walk and walk until I tired myself out and got a bit mental and emotional breathing room. I also discovered podcasts, which my fractured mind was able to focus on for short periods of time.
The mania did eventually run its course, leaving me with a pretty decent exercise habit which I’ve kept up over the past year. And 2019 turned out to be a pretty fantastic year.
Eventually I do want to write about All The Things, but for now let me just put down both my clever and my ordinary and hit “publish” for the first time in 2 years.
Thank you for being here with me.
I didn’t know! So glad you had a better 2019! Here’s to 2020!
Charlotte Burnham says
I can guess which fibro med you were taking … I went quite nuts on it too. Started it in Nov 2016 and things weren’t too bad (or at least I thought so) for the first few months, but by June I was totally over the top. As a teacher, I had to order supplies for the following year in June and I was changing grade levels that next year as well (another symptom of my overly confident state–it is NOT a good idea to take on a challenge like that when dealing with the kinds of health issues I was having)–when the supplies arrived in September, the order was absurd! Stuff I’d never need or use, and WAAYY too much of everything! I knew by early July, however, that I needed to get off that stuff. That was a horrific experience all its own. I’ve never had a drug addiction, but I certainly know now a bit of what withdrawal feels like. I was off of it by late August, but what a miserable summer it was! I’m glad to hear you got through the experience, but terribly sorry to hear you went through it. And I agree–here’s to a better 2020 for us all!
Yes – welcome back! You are brave and strong, and your writing will continue to help and inspire others. I’m very proud of you.