Friday, January 22, 2010


So. This blog is named Sanity Optional. It has been so since its conception on 23rd May, 2005. But right now, sanity is most definitely not optional.

As most regular readers are well aware, I have Bipolar. Well, I think I do. I've never been diagnosed. I have my ups and downs, my ins and outs.I've always managed to ride out the bad periods, and control it (to some extent) with diet, exercise, limted alcohol intake and a good routine. I try to get plenty of sleep, but thats a bit hard. Ever since I as 16 I've woken up at 3.30 am. I'm not sure why. And over the years its been added to by a 1am and a 5am wake up. Its so consistent I could literally set my clock by it.

Anyway. For the past few weeks I've been doing the up-down, round and round thing. Its sucked. to put it minorly. But it all came to a head about a week ago.

For the uninitiated, I work with animals. Its a great job, but it can be quite emotionally challenging at times too. I had a group of animals that were destined to die, and we needed some blood from them. The easiest way to take the quantity of blood we needed, is to anaesthetise the animal, take the blood from the heart, and kill it immediately. No muss, no fuss. And its something I've done lots of times before. Well, this time it failed. For some reason, they would not take to the anaesthetic. Every time I got the needle in, they'd move, or kick, or wriggle. I hated it. No matter what angle I tried, no matter how I held the needle, how I supported the head (so the gas was unobstructed), they moved. I tried aspect in every combination. Still, they moved. This went on for 3 hours. I was a mess by the end of it.

I chucked the worlds biggest tanty. I was screaming and swearing and crying. I ended up yelling at my coworkers to finish the job, and literally running out of the facility. I sat in the change rooms, door shut, lights off, in the corner. I cried, for I don't know how long. Not little weepy bits, but gut wrenching, wracking sobs. I ended up making myself feel sick, so I tried to vomit for about 10 minutes more. To no avail. All I could do was spit up something that tasted like vinegar.

Eventually I got changed into a fresh uniform. I was so wrecked I could no longer bear to wear the other one, even though there was nothing really wrong with it. I slunk back into the facility and apologised to some people that I'd yelled at, and went and hid somewhere quiet, isolated and dark.

Later that day, my boss came to see me, and asked me up to HR. I nearly shat myself, but I did end up crying again. Before I'd even gone anywhere. I headed up and had the talk. You can tell how it would have gone. Basically they asked me how I thought they would be feeling about what happened. I replied (very honestly) that, if it was anything like how I felt, they'd be acutely embarrassed.

*Insert more tears here*

So the next question went along the lines of 'is there something going on?' To which I started with the gut wrenching cries again. If I had've kept breathing, I would have been absolutely hysterical. As it was, we were in an office in the middle of admin and, despite my earlier outburst, I still didn't want everybody knowing I was sick.

I told my boss I had bipolar and it hasn't been playing nice. Both her and the HR lady were great about it. Very supportive. They told me to go home immediately after the interview, and take the next day off if I wanted to.

I ended up going straight to Gloria jeans for a gigantic muffin and a coffee. I dithered about a little, before swinging past the doctors to ask about their mental health care. Its bulk billed (meaning I don't have to pay any of it), but I'd have to get a referral first, and it would be a half hour wait to see a doctor. I declined.

Mum rang me that night. Since she works in the mental health field, she knew what was going on. She was asking me questions about my sleep habits, spending, eating, exercise, routine and thoughts. She ended up deciding that I wasn't a danger to myself, but she's still worried, and has been calling pretty much every night to see how I am.

I did go back to see the doctor on Friday though. Went up to the counter and asked if there was a doctor who would be best to talk to about mental health problems. Tweedle dum and Tweedle dummer just suggested I wait for the next doctor. I wasn't too keen on that idea, since it was a bulk billing medical centre and about half of my experiences with doctors are to get me in, sign the sheet (so they can get paid) and get me out.

I lucked out though. I got a great lady doctor, and told her about what had happened. She asked the same questions that Mum did. We talked about keeping to a routine, eating right, sleeping better etc. She told me to really limit my spending. Apparently thats a big problem with bipolar peeps. And she gave me a mental health crisis line that I can call any time I need to. We discussed the panic attacks I'd been having. And we discussed my sleep patterns too. I asked if she could give me anything to help me sleep, and she said no. She didn't want to prescribe me with anything because she didn't want to be messing with drugs and such, when I was likely to end up on something. She did give me a natural remedy that I could try.

Out to the pharmacy, I asked about that particular remedy. The pharmacist recommended something else, but they didn't have it in stock. I went to another place. That pharmacist (c*nt) said herbal remedies were all a bunch of bollocks, and without treating the underlying problem, nothing would work. Another place, another pharmacist, recommended the same as the first. By this stage I'd spent about an hour just looking at sleep aids, so I had an idea of what to look for, and had already come to that conclusion. I managed to price shop around, and found it for $10 less than most other places.

I have made an appointment with the psychiatrist for the end of March. It is quite a while away, but I should be ok. I have boot camp going on at the moment, and I'm muchly excited about it. Training with the best trainers I know, and some fantastic people. Its outdoors, and something different each night. So it will keep me quite happy and interested for a bit. The sleep tablets are starting to work. On the first night I skipped the 1am wake up. And just two nights ago, I slept straight through til 5.30. Its not much, but its something. I know I'm likely to be on these for quite a while. I have 10 years of fucked up sleep to retrain my brain from.


Ute said...

I can't even begin to imagine how you cope with that scenario each and everyday.... I was with our dog when he was pts, and I could never do it again.
I guess as a career, like with anything medical, you learn to adjust and put it in the back of your mind.

Being diagnosed as bipolar was an eye opener for me.
Suddenly there was a real medical reason for my behaviour, and it kinda lifted me up out of the dispair I was having...wondering wtf was wrong with me.

Spending was always (still is) a huge problem with me.... same with sleep and thoughts of self harm.

My doctor wont ever prescribe me sleeping pills. But the medication I'm on, if you take the right amount (I'm not! bad meee) you sleep really well.

When you manage to see another doctor, ask them to give you a referal called a 'Item 2712' which is the mental health care plan.
It's a bulk billed free mental health plan, that gets you into see psychologists/psychiatrists for an initial 6 visits. After the 6, you get a report sent back to the doctor, and you get another referal for more visits.

Hang in there, and well done for making the steps towards healing. :o)

xl said...

As I understand it, bipolar is largely a chemical imbalance in the brain. My psychiatrist prescribed two meds plus fish oil. That combo works for me to knock out the highs and lows.

I think you are on the right track working with your psychiatrist. Hang in there, you'll be fine. :)

Cazzie!!! said...

Phish... you know, I would end up a mess just as you described there if I had to do that as part of my job as a nurse. I know how you love animals, the same as I do and you know, your reaction is valid hon. There is only so much anyone could take.
March does seem a long way away..but look at this, we are already at the end of January and it has gone so fast. With your bootcamp as something to look forward to each night that will give you some coping mechanisms to get out all the frustrations if there are any..if not, just as a diversion hon.
It should make you sleep a bit better too :)
Don't stress over the silly pharmacists you went to. I know you have something to "take" now to sleep...but grab youserlf some lavender oil and put some on a tissue under your pillow... it does wonders :) I use it after each night shift I work to wind down.
Other than that, I am sure your Mum's calls are wonderful for you... if she is a great listener then you can benefit from that especially until your March appointment.
Huggs and more huggs going your way from here in Melbourne :)
One day at a time hon.

MissE said...

Many, many, many, many hugs.

I hate the bulk-bill doctors places. Hell... I hate doctors in general. They (most of them) manage to make me feel like I'm a hypochondriac, waste of their time. I've lucked out lately in that the doctor at the bulk bill I go to in desperation proved to be decent and the gyno he sent me to was a genuinely good bloke. But the complete lack of any feeling of real care on the part of most staff? Upsetting and not really conducive to creating trust.

But nuff about me. You can do this, Phish. One look at your before and after photos and anyone can see the amazing strength of will you possess. I have faith in your ability to deal.

Sending you love, hugs, and hope.
(wish I could send something more practical and useful, but it's the best I can do.)

Fanny said...

Phish, honey, you are taking positive steps to help yourself and that's all you can do.
In the meantime, exercise will lift your spirits.

fingers said...

Oh Phishy, I don't know where to start.
Please don't go round diagnosing yourself as bipolar, or even telling other people you think you're bipolar. Even if you are, it's not a mental illness; it's usually a chemical imbalance, like diabetes. Please don't dignify this shitty pseudo-disease by giving it the medical traction it doesn't deserve...

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're going through this, dear Phish. I am concerned, so I've again added you to my daily prayers. Alex sends a chirp & a meow.

Ms Smack said...

This is an amazing post, full of pain and hope at the same time. Until you've been properly diagnosed, I would agree with our mutual friend, Fingers.

I am glad that you've got supportive people around you, and I think you're doing everything possible, but honestly, I would have gotten hugely upset at the needle thingy not going right and I haven't got Bi_P.

Could it have been the final straw that broke the camel's back on top of a heap of other stuff, inc insomnia?

You know best, Steph, and we'll be here no matter what.


unique_stephen said...

careful of st johns wart.

Anonymous said...

I read all this with great care. please do be ok, and listen what people who know say. Life can be really shit sometimes but it doesnt mean anything.

poody said...

Glad you are seeing the head dr. This is the best thing ever for you! I am sorry about the job! I could never ever do your work. I accidentally hit a pidgeon last week with the car and cried for a whole day over the murder!

Memphis Steve said...

I'm not doctor, but I think it's a bad idea to tell the doctor you are bipolar rather than letting them decide if you are for themselves. Your sleeping problems alone can be the cause of your extreme emotional swings, as well as making it difficult to lose weight no matter how hard you exercise and diet. If it were me, I'd look long and hard at that sleeping problem all by itself. You'd be amazed at how it can fuck you up over time, both your emotional stability and mental health as well as your body.

Memphis Steve said...

Just to be clear, I'm not claiming to know anything about whether you are or aren't bipolar. I'm just telling you something I know from the experiences of my sister. Sleeping problems alone have caused her an amazing amount of problems, far more than I could have ever imagined. It affects what foods you crave (sugar), how quickly and steadily you gain weight, how difficult it is to lose that weight, your emotional stability or the lack thereof, and a host of other things you might never suspect.