A Pocket Full Of Pills
November 5, 2013

A Pocket Full Of Pills

Two months ago, I considered myself fairly healthy. I mean, I’m fat. I’ve always been fat. But I hike, I swim, I walk. My blood pressure has always been good. That’s healthy, right?

Okay, so I’ve been depressed most of my life, and I’ve been in and out of therapy and off and on medication for a long time. But two months ago I wasn’t taking any meds, I was in therapy and felt good.

Today, two months later, I carry a pocket full of pills every day. It is annoying. No, let’s be honest, it pisses me off. I hate pills. So, what is wrong with me, you ask? Now that’s a story.

The first pill is a mood stabilizer, meant to help even things out. Apparently my long-term depression is actually Bipolar Disorder II. I can hear you asking, “There are two different kinds of Bipolar Disorder?” Well, no, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are five: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified, Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder and Cyclothymic Disorder.

There are really technical definitions to tell the difference between these four, but here’s the short and sweet version.

Bipolar I folks cycle from “WHEEEE! Life is grand” (mania) to “I wanna die” (severe depression) in episodes that last from one to two weeks on each end of the scale. Sometimes they have hallucinations or become violent.

Bipolar II folks don’t get to the “WHEEEE” stage, dammit. I want “WHEEE!” We tend to go from “Eh, life is okay,” (hypomania) to “Please let me die.” Again, the episodes tend to last a while.

Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) is when someone has symptoms of the illness, but don’t meet the technical diagnostic criteria for BP I or II.

Cyclothemic Disorder is a very mild version. They have mild episodes of hypomania (“Eh, life is okay”) and mild episode of depression lasting for at least 2 years.

Finally, Rapid Cycling is exactly what it sounds like. These poor folks have four or more episodes of major depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed states, all within a year.

Mood stabilizers are very different from antidepressants. Mood stabilizers help you stop the roller coaster, mostly calming down the manic episodes. Antidepressants enhance neurotransmitters in your brain to relieve depression. For folks like me, who have problems with both, they use them together, which leads to the next pill in my pocket.

After a month on the mood stabilizer, they started me on an antidepressant. The mood stabilizer alone made me feel like a zombie. No highs, no lows, no ability to hold on to any particular emotion for a long period of time. The antidepressant has raised me up from there. Now, I did NOT want to take this medication. I’ve been on antidepressants before and I did NOT like how they affected me. Taking them with a mood stabilizer has made a huge difference.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end. When they put you on all these wonderful medications, they have to test your blood for liver function. My doctor ordered a blood panel that covered a whole host of information, including blood glucose.

You guessed it. I’m now a Type II diabetic, as well. This is the last pill in my pocket.

Again, I hear you asking, “Type II?” The International Diabetes Foundation says that there are at least three.

Type I is generally juvenile-onset caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body’s defense system attacks the cells that produce insulin. Type I folks cannot live without insulin injections.

Type II is adult-onset, or non-insulin dependent. This accounts for nearly 90 percent of all diabetic cases. These folks are insulin resistant. Most of the time, Type II folks can control their condition through exercise and diet. Unfortunately, most will end up on oral drugs or insulin eventually.

Gestational diabetes develops in one in 25 pregnancies around the world and can cause problems for both mother and child.

So, I’ve been taking classes on how to be successful at managing my diabetes, learning all about my new medications, reading books on BP Disorder and Diabetes, learning new ways to cook, transitioning from having a therapist to have a therapist, a shrink and a GP, along with working for redOrbit and taking ceramics, stained glass and painting classes at the local college. It’s been a busy couple months.

I know I’m complaining, but that’s just my personality. I am very happy to have all these people on my side, and to know what is going on with my mind and body. Information is armor, and all that. And honestly, I just flat feel better these days, even with a pocket full of pills.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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