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What I need: meds and sleep

4 Mar

My poor husband. Being married to someone who has Bipolar Disorder has got to be a teeny bit nerve-wracking at times.

Take last week for instance. I contracted Baby Girl’s lovely stomach bug and on Wednesday night (really, the wee hours of Thursday morning) was up puking my guts out from 1am until 4am. It was horrendous. I swore up and down that I don’t think I want to have another baby because throwing up is the most awful thing in the world and I know I’d have morning sickness if we decided to go for #3.

The next morning I tried my hardest to get the kids up for Mom’s Morning Out but I could barely walk ten feet without my head spinning. My husband had a 9am meeting that he HAD to be at, so I decided that I’d just keep the kids home and would let them watch TV all day until he could come home early in the afternoon.

And then I remembered my wonderful Mother-in-law. She’s retired and she loves the kids and they adore her. I called and she said she would of course come over to watch them so that I could catch up on my sleep.

I couldn’t even make the kids breakfast. My husband gave Mister Man a bowl of cereal and Baby Girl a sippy cup of milk and he was out the door. They were distracted with the TV until my Mother-in-law arrived and I crawled back in to bed. I didn’t even come out until almost 2pm.

By then I only had a few hours until my husband would get home. I hadn’t been able to eat anything, but was able to drink apple juice on ice. It tasted like pure heaven but it was bad news for my blood sugar. My husband got home around 4:30pm and I went straight back to bed. He made me a piece of toast and I was able to keep it down, but my body still ached from the heaving the night before and then there were the chills. I couldn’t get warm despite two layers of clothes, socks, and a fuzzy bathrobe. Under covers. Eventually I fell asleep again.

I woke up at 9:30pm and picked up my phone next to me in bed to text my husband so he would check on me. He came up and when I was so delirious in the way I was asking him to get my phone charger, he started to get concerned.

Not about the stomach bug I had. He was concerned that I may be manic. I could hear it in his voice.

He tried to force me to take my Lithium, but I refused. I got angry. I called him names for trying to force me.

I realized I had forgotten to call his mom back about the next day and whether she should come help me again, so he offered to call her. He’d stay home with me and the kids.

When he came back up with another piece of toast for me, I took a bite and apologized for my rant. I was just so afraid of the medication making me throw up again like I had the night before. I promised to take it the following night. I know how much I need it.

Just not when my stomach is rejecting anything that goes into it.


Sleep is my #1 trigger. I know this after years of managing my illness. As much of a night owl that I am, I cannot pull all-nighters like I did in college anymore. I can’t even take care of multiple newborn feeding shifts (lucky for me). Because of this, I do everything I can to protect my sleep. If I don’t, my health is at risk. Same thing with taking my medication. I may just need a small amount of Lithium every night, but if I go a week without it, I am most-likely going to become manic.

I don’t blame my husband for trying to get me to take my medication and for worrying that I could have been becoming manic. He is just doing his job of looking out for my well-being and our family’s well-being. I am very thankful that he realized that my irrational behavior was due to my frustration in him not being able to find my cell phone charger and also my haywire blood sugar levels from surviving on nothing but apple juice and a piece of toast all day. He is a wonderful, loving partner and father to our kids who has done a tremendous job of helping me to manage my illness.

Within a few days my sleep was back to normal and my stomach is almost back to normal. I was only off my medication for one night do to this nasty stomach bug (which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, btw). This week I am preparing for Daylight savings by going to bed a little earlier each night starting tomorrow. The following weekend (St. Patty’s weekend!) I am heading to a memoir writer’s retreat in Seattle and this will be a bit of a challenge for me, sleep-wise. But I am well-prepared and I have my trusty sleep-aid to use since the time change will definitely disrupt my sleep. When I get home on the 18th I’ll have a good week of work to do on my sleep to get back on schedule, but I know I will be okay.

I am a fighter. I monitor my sleep and take my medication because it is my responsibility to my self, my spouse and my family.

And it’s getting to be past my bedtime, so I need to wrap this post up so that I can log some quality ZZZZ’s.


Living with bipolar disorder

19 Oct

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact that I am living with a mental illness. Not because I worry about what other people think of me, it’s not that at all. It’s because I have to constantly be taking the pulse of my mood so that I can manage my illness to the best of my ability. Over the last seven years I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

I like to describe my experience living with bipolar disorder as a scale of one to ten. A simple ten point scale tells so much for someone like me. Think of it this way: 1 = completely depressed, can’t get out of bed; 5 = in the middle, balanced (this is what I strive for every day); and 10 = completely manic, need hospital. I won’t lie, I like being in the 6-7 range, but when I do have those times when I creep up to the 8’s, I start to crumble. I know that when I get to 8, I need to make time for sleep or else I could tip over to 9 or 10 and that would be incredibly awful. Just because I’ve been there before. And now we have two kids and I would hate for them to see me in a manic state. Just as I would hate for them to see me depressed. But with my version of bipolar disorder, Bipolar I, my moods swing on the higher side of the scale versus the low side.

Nighttime is the hardest. The kids have been asleep for an hour and within that time I’ve cleaned up the kitchen and (of late) collapsed on the couch in front of my favorite show right now: XFactor. Some nights I am motivated enough to do a workout and then am filled with so much serotonin that it’s almost impossible to turn off the endorphins enough to sleep right afterwards.

I’m trying to curb my evening leftover work/facebook surfing/twitter gazing/blog stalking to a minimum so that I can hopefully join the 10pm bedtime club.

When I do climb into bed, I get super jealous of my husband who, within exactly two minutes of us shutting off the lights, is snoring away happily. I’m a different story. My eyes close, my breathing slows down, and I shift around until I get into a comfortable position to try to nod off. Thoughts pop up and a running to-do list keeps flashing before me. I’ve learned coping mechanisms over the years so now I am able to turn down those things and find sweet sleep. If ever an hour goes by and I am still not asleep, I know that I must pop a sleeping pill to help me get the zzz’s that I need.

I’ve just been thinking lately about how I live with this each and every day, and will for the rest of my life. Nothing I can’t handle, just thought my readers might be interested in knowing a little bit about what it feels like.

Switching things around

17 May

I’d like to start off this post with a little disclaimer. I am not a doctor, and therefore, what you are about to read is in no way, shape, or form, medical advice. I just feel a need to write about it, and since this is my blog, that is exactly what I am going to do.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an evening med-taker. Back when I used to be on multiple meds, the combination would make me sleepy, so my doctor would always recommend taking the cocktail of pills at bedtime.

But it’s been over a year and a half since I’ve just been taking good ‘ol Lithium {and Ambien as needed, which turns out to be once a month or so, sometimes less}. And lately, I’ve been noticing that by the end of the day – twelve hours straight of just me and the kids – I am so burnt out. My irritability is through the roof, and I’m sometimes snapping at the kids if they do something that gets on my nerves {which, by the end of 12 hours is practically everything, I have to admit}.

I last had my blood levels checked about two weeks ago. You have to get your blood drawn 8-12 hours after your last dose, so for me that meant that I had to get an appointment at the lab before 10am since I usually take my pill around 9-10pm. I made an appointment online and it just happened to work out that I got a 9:30 spot. Two kiddos in tow, I kept them entertained in the waiting room with the ipad {TocaBoca Doctor is great, btw!}.

The waiting room was packed, so by the time the phlebotomist got around to drawing my blood, it was almost 10am. I had taken my Lithium at 10pm the night before, so I was certain my level was going to be really low.

Sure enough, a few days later my psychiatrist called to say that yes, my level was low, but that is okay since it’s working for me.

I thought about how I had been feeling mentally lately, and decided to make a small change in my regimen for my own mental health. I decided that it wasn’t really doing me much good taking my pill before bed, because then the highest concentration of the medication was running through my blood while I was sleeping.

Doesn’t make much sense, right? Why have all that good medicine at its peak in your blood while you’re sleeping, only to be at its lowest levels during the hours of the day you spend awake and busy?

Let me clarify, that I know full well that when you take a daily medication like Lithium, it remains fairly constant in your bloodstream over the course of time. But for me, I just wanted to try out my theory that if I took my pill in the morning, by having the highest daily concentration of the medicine in my body during the daytime hours, maybe that would help keep my mood more steady and even when I am awake. Basically, when I need it most.

I am happy to report that since making this change on Monday, I’ve felt better. Felt like I’ve had more patience. Felt more calm and steady. Felt like a better mom, even. With my little man going through a rough case of picky-eater syndrome and the “Terrible 3’s”, I so needed this change in my mental health.

This is what I needed. And I’m so glad it’s working for me.

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