Keeping up

I’m trying to become more prolific with this blog. My small cult of readers seem to somewhat enjoy it and it gives me a medium with which I can observe my life and thoughts as if I were an outsider. I’m hoping to eventually start doing some creative writing as well.  I’m something of a poet at times but the inspiration rarely strikes me. I like words. They put thoughts into practice and ascribe meaning to the seemingly mundane. 

I plan to do a post one day strictly about all the concerts I’ve been to and the related awesome memories. Perhaps I could do a post about things I enjoy cooking. I’m just trying to think of ways in which I could diversify my content a bit. 

I’m trying to avoid the usual stream of consciousness stuff that I so frequently resort to.  I’m not trying to play to an audience as much as I’m simply growing bored with same old rundown and generalized updates. I’m well aware that my life really is not THAT fascinating. 

As unfocused as this particular post is, I feel it’s important to have a brainstorming session of sorts with myself. I’m not certain what my strong points as a writer really are. I’d like to think I have a few, but honestly I’m far too critical of my own work most of the time.  I’m not above taking some feedback from my readers as long as it’s understood that I’m not really doing this for you. 

I have a few upcoming events which should give me some fresh subject matter to ruminate upon. Next Sunday I’m going to see the Summer Slaughter tour with Cannibal Corpse,  Nile,  Suffocation and many other bands. If nothing else I’ll have lots of fun to gush about.  I’m going to Alaska in a month and am quite excited about it as well.  It’ll be farther than I’ve ever been from home and I plan on taking lots of pictures and being outdoorsy as all hell. I’m a bit nervous about traveling that far but it’s an adventure not to be missed.

Some of my posting will still consist of Mental and Physical health updates. Some of my friends read this blog and it’s an easy way to keep my dear ones in the loop. I’m dealing with two chronic illnesses and WordPress is a wonderfully supportive environment for those like myself. Admittedly,  I need to start using the reader feature more and be more interactive with other bloggers. I’m slacking with keeping up with the blogs I like reading and for that you all have my profuse apologies.  I’m trying to branch out a little without getting sidetracked from the original purpose of this blog. Above all it’s a place where I can be myself.  

For those who read and get something out of it I extend my thanks. Thanks for making this more than just a space for me to bitch. As I said,  I do this mostly for myself but it blows my mind how many subscribers I have now.  Not bad for what was originally intended to be a ‘Hide out from my family and complain about my issues’ blog. I’m glad I relaxed and went public with it. My family doesn’t always understand me and I don’t always get them, but I love them dearly and I’m glad they more or less accept me and my various  quirks.

So yeah,  that’s about where I’m at with the ol’ Planet Berserk.  Thanks for reading and being a part of this strange exercise in documenting my thoughts. 

Regards-

Berserker 

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I wanted….

I wanted this post to be a serious exercise in exposition. Maybe talk about love or something else reasonably intense. Perhaps reflect on the steady changes that the last few years have been composed of. Alas, it is not to be.

Alright, then what? I guess that I can use the old ‘Update on the State of Life’ motif again. It’s a bit tired but tried and true. I do occasionally enjoy it as well. I don’t have much going for me in this world except for a hopelessly overclocked brain, a great ass and something of a way with words. Words are both something that makes sense to me as well as something that I can control and manipulate.

So that said, things are going well. There are a few things that could use improvement, although on the whole everything is much better for me. So where do I begin? Oh yes. As I previously stated, I’m working in Clearwater Beach as a busser and barback. The money is great and it’s going quite well. I stayed dedicated with my job search and went to the interview even after I already got hired somewhere else. It turned out to be a good move.

Of course, this probably would not have happened if I hadn’t started taking Wellbutrin for depression. Getting on it is one of the smarter things I’ve done for myself along with telling the assholes at my previous soul-crushing job to fuck off.

Things are lovely on the home front. Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning with Shannon as well as going to open a checking account later on in the day. I live right by a branch that is open until 6 during the week. I pass by it on the way home every day so it’s the logical choice for a place to do my financial crap.

Shannon is trying to find a day job. I hope he does. Loving a third shift person is kind of like being an army wife or something. Wouldn’t trade him for the world, though. We understand one another in a way I’ve never known with another human being. I am so in love it’s freaking nauseating.

The animals are their usual charming selves. Roxy and Browski are chilling around the other couch and dozing. Not sure what Ms. Marci is up to but I’m certain that it’s inexplicably cute.

I decided to abandon the vocational rehabilitation idea as I simply can’t argue convincingly that my mental health issues are really holding me back that much right now.  I kind of feel like an idiot to be honest. Since I was diagnosed bipolar ten years ago I have never taken antidepressants. Even when I really needed some. I was diagnosed during a lexapro induced mania and stayed FAR from this whole class of drugs for ten years . I wonder how much unnecessary suffering I put myself through out of being afraid of antidepressants in general.

I finally got to where the risks associated with these meds were ones I was willing to take if it meant possibly not feeling vile. My doctor advised me that fetzima and Wellbutrin were the meds that were somewhat less likely to cause problems in the bipolar. I rolled the dice and hoped for the best.

It’s been like night and day. I keep thinking of what the Golden Dawn people say ‘Long hast thou dwelled in darkness. Quit the night and seek the day!’. For me , it was as simple as admitting that I was outgunned and admitting that the help I was afraid of using as well as asking for was needed beyond doubt.

I’m still hanging on.

Slogging away

My life is pretty chaotic at present. My home/romantic life is wonderful but other facets of my life are to put it simply falling apart. I can’t find employment to save my life. I’ve had a kajillion interviews and zero callbacks. The consistent theme lately seems to be rejection.  To be perfectly honest, it isn’t a huge surprise to me.

My resume is pretty weak, all things considered. I’ve had two severe mental collapses in my life. Both times my working life seriously regressed.  All I have for stable work experience in the last few years is shitty low end crap restaurant jobs that ran me ragged.

That’s why I’m pushing forward with the Vincent House thing. Because I’ve never really gotten any kind of help for being mentally ill. I feel like I would be severely stupid to not further investigate the possibility.  As far as that goes, I’m doing what I have to do. I have to first open a case with Florida vocational rehabilitation and designate Vincent House as my provider.

I’ve been through the place and talked to people there. I think these people can really help me get on the right track and I look forward to making it happen.

It’s been ten years since my first nervous breakdown that resulted in my type one bipolar disorder diagnosis. I have tried and tried harder than I thought was humanly possible to make it on my own. I simply can’t make a decent living with what’s available to me. I can’t handle the heat of kitchens any more with all the meds that I take daily.

I’m just not built for straight up warfare type jobs anymore. I need a new skill or something.  I had my intake/orientation appointment with vocational rehabilitation a couple days ago. Tuesday I have my meeting with the counselor to talk about my history and determine my eligibility I suppose.

Here’s hoping. I feel like this is my best shot and I’m taking it. Say a little invocation for me, won’t you?

Brain Shivers….

Yes, it IS as strange and unpleasant as it might sound. Drugs that hit certain types of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine are often the cause of this most icky feeling of symptoms. The brain is a big ol’ web of electrical signals that get screwed up by sudden withdrawal from certain central nervous system drugs.

The brain shivers involve the electrical activity in ones brain going slightly haywire from the aforementioned withdrawal from these meds. For me, it was Effexor. My doctor took me off of it way too fast and I had four days with no sleep and blip after blip of weird neurological activity.

It’s sort of like a bad mushroom Trip that just makes you progressively more batshit and just plain miserable.

Coming off this drug was worse than any withdrawal I’ve ever experienced including opiates. Would never wish it on my worst enemies.  I was certain that I would never sleep again. I was sick, upside down feeling and just plain awful after smoking some marijuana finally put me out for the night after day four.

I hope you never have to experience this. Remember to go nice and easy and slow when titrating down on any psych drug.

Muh Chemical Profile

I’ve been taking various central nervous system drugs since I was a wee Berserker of seven or eight. My current cocktail, including non-psych meds is:

Risperdal 3mg daily
Ritalin XR 20 mg daily
Wellbutrin XR 150 mg daily (beginning tomorrow morning)
Metropolol 25 mg daily
Benazepril  6.5 mg daily
Also occasional ibuprofen for joint pain and I keep a few vistaril on hand for the times when sleep is elusive.

Some folks tell me it’s horrible that I take all these meds. I don’t think it is myself. Aside from them working at keeping me sane, organized and not hypertensive or achy I don’t really feel like I’m ‘on’ anything. I’d like to see you manage arthritis with no analgesics.

At some point in my life I have had these experiences with the following drugs:
Abilify- Made me very foggy and was rather unremarkable.
Adderall XR- was great for my attention span but revved my heart like crazy .
Buspar- didn’t do crap for my anxiety and made me feel blah.
Celexa- kept me hypomanic before being discontinued when the psych unit was bringing me down from a feral lexapro induced mania.
Depakote- Acute psychotic reaction. Tried to start a revolt in the crisis ward. Fun stuff.
Effexor- Absolutely despised it. Felt like a zombie dipped in shit. Plus I had the most horrible withdrawal. Ever hear of the brain shivers? Because I never had.
Geodon- Good results for pulling me out of madness. It does scary stuff to the heart though. Wouldn’t repeat it.
Lamictal- helped at first but crapped out fast.
Lithium- blunted my emotions profoundly. I couldn’t cry while I was on it. I can now. I’m glad that the side effects outweighed the benefits enough to try something else.
Provigil- great for ADHD but needs a time release coat or something as it poops out too quickly.
Tegretol- took at the same time as Geodon. It’s a seizure med so it’ll basically make you kinda drunk and disoriented like it did for me.
Zyprexa- made me fat. But slayed my psychosis like nothing else. Calmed me the fuck down fast.
Lexapro- induced a terrifying series of rapid cycling manic episodes. I am still cobbling my life back together from this period.
Strattera- didn’t do crap for my ADHD. made me feel really sluggish and ditzy at the higher doses.
Risperdal- works better for me than any drug ever has in terms of keeping me stable without completely zonking me into oblivion. It is a good med for the  bipolar/ADHD combo in particular. However, at the higher doses (6mg and up) it can do a number on your hormones. I only take three mg and my doctor is hesitant to raise it.

As with a great many things, results may and will vary. This is just what I got out of these particular drugs.  Hope you have found this entertaining and informative.

Contradictions….

So many things which seem to be the purest form thereof….are not. Whether one is talking about chemistry of the romantic and neurological varieties, or a really stunning recipe, or a crossover album or WHATEVER- Some things which seem like a bad idea on paper or in theory turn out to be stunning testaments to human ingenuity. It all depends on how you approach it.

Some of the Metal music I adore is honestly pure schlock and cheese. But it works despite how cartoony it may appear on the surface. A great deal of my friends are people I never thought I would ever have any common ground with. Variety is truly the spice of life.

So it goes with many things. My current boyfriend and I actually have some things in common, which is highly unusual for me. I usually find myself awkwardly mismatched and grasping for the words at any moment. When I saw him recently we listened to some Brian Eno, some Lycia, some Jess and The Ancient Ones and I even managed (being a devious bastard) to slip some Mortuary Drape in there. He isn’t an obsessive listener and just told me to surprise him. Still,  he was pretty receptive to everything I played. Important plot point this is. He and I are very different people but we seem to be a good fit.

Back to contradictions, let’s talk about the chemical management of the bipolar one/adhd stuff. Risperdal and Adderall. The most potent dopamine blocker on the market combined with the most powerful stimulant. You would figure this would be a clear case of canceling one another out, ja? Not the case. The risperdal generally keeps me calm as a hindu cow while the adderall makes me think more.. I guess you could call it linearly and logically. I can plan ahead as I go and not get sidetracked by every stupid little thing. I’m hoping I can use this to help me conquer some sort of schooling soon. I went to trade school for HVAC but my back and shoulders are in no shape for that sort of work anymore.

I’ve started this blog for a few primary reasons.

1. To have a place where I can speak relatively freely and release pressure.

2. To get myself back in the habit of writing.

3. To offer what perspective, insight and support I can to the community of mental health bloggers on wordpress.

Blogging here has been an immensely valuable resource for me in the past. Whether it’s for just blowing off steam. sharing strategies for coping or just having a place to share/be oneself this is a wonderful community. I’ve had to narrow my audience a bit as I’m not really ‘out’ with about half my family. So there goes publicizing on facebook. Still, I’m doing it more for peace of mind than the gathering of followers.

So that’s about where I’m at. Enjoying my mental health sabbatical and getting my affairs in order. Medicare dragged their feet on striking me from the rolls so I nearly lost my tax credit for my current insurance. Got it sorted out though. As it stands though I’m kind of in the weeds. I was on Social Security Disability for five years. My case was flagged for termination while I was still barely functional because I started working part time. I was still a mess though.

I filed for an extension of benefits while my appeal was being reviewed. However, something changed. After about nine months after I filed I got taken off of Lithium and put on Risperdal. I was a  literally like a new man after about a month on Risperdal. I abandoned my appeal indicating to them that my condition had drastically improved and I was no longer interested in pursuing the hearing. So I got stuck with the bill because I signed an agreement stating that I understood I may have to pay the appeal payments back.

So I owe about a year of SSDI back. Eleven Thousand dollars. Ouch. I’m a person of modest income so this will take a long time to pay off. However, I have made arrangements for monthly payments. It’s a bitter pill to swallow as I feel I’m being punished for getting better. My condition was well established as causing impairment and the change for the better was abrupt. Still- what can I do?

In spite of this all, I feel good. I know I’ve changed for the better because the old me would be going completely to pieces over this kind of stuff. Experience really is the best teacher.

That’s about all I have for now. Be well.

-Thom

 

P.S.- One final thing- regarding the title ‘Planet Berserk’: My nickname among friends has been Berserker since I was seventeen years old (32 now). It is what it is 😉