Pink & Blue Mummyland

Pink and blue parenting through pink and blue moods….

Kicking denial into touch….

When I started this, I had every intention of writing blog posts daily with all sorts of witticisms related to bipolar and motherhood and Christian faith, and how these three interleave (or clash with resounding wordplay!). The reality is, of course, that things aren’t ever as smooth as you think they are going to be.

The short to medium term plan with regards to my bipolar is to stop the antidepressants I have been on for years, and replace them with a mood stabiliser, so as to prevent the episodes rather than just treat them when they arrive. It’s now fifteen years since my first antidepressant – I started on Prozac (fluoxetine) at nineteen, and have since worked my way through most of the common SSRIs and a few tricyclics for good measure. Most of them worked for a while, and without many side effects, but even when they got rid of the depression it was never permanent, and we ended up back at the beginning, trying yet another drug. I’ve since learned that this is typical for many people with bipolar, and the fact that antidepressants work temporarily is one of the reasons it can take so long to diagnose.

I’ve had a bit of a medication crisis recently. Things haven’t gone entirely as expected, which has led to lots of stress and heartache. Having never really had any side effects related to psych drugs, it would seem that I’m really quite sensitive to the sedative effect of the mood stabiliser I’m on (quetiapine, for those in the know!). Reducing down the antidepressant venlafaxine whilst increasing the quetiapine was going really well until the very last little bit, which I really didn’t expect seeing as I had been on the maximum dose for nearly a year. I get very low when I stopped taking the last half tablet, but the amount of quetiapine needed to bring me back up caused an unbearable level of drowsiness and had a whole body effect – until lunchtime I couldn’t get up the one flight of stairs in my house without my whole body aching, which isn’t ideal when sharing a house with two small children.

Eventually, I got over the withdrawal effects of the venlafaxine, and managed to bring the quetiapine back down to a manageable level, but it’s left me very fearful of the next step of the plan – reducing the second antidepressant, mirtazepine. Because of the extent of the difficulty I had when on higher doses of quetiapine, my doctor will probably have to introduce another mood stabiliser, like Lamotrigine, or my ‘scary drug’ – lithium.

I had a bit of a reality check the other night. I realised that, although the bipolar diagnosis was a relief, I’m still in denial with regards to just how serious it is. I’ve suddenly been hit by the gravity of the situation – that being bipolar is likely going to mean a lifetime of medication to stay stable, and that I will have to either learn to live with side effects on a day to day basis, or suffer the consequences of not taking the drugs I need to stabilise my mood.

So today is not about kicking bipolar into touch, but about kicking denial. It seems to be an ongoing cycle that I think I’m fine and dealing with it, something happens to knock my confidence, and I have to go over it all again, dealing with it all over again. The truth is that I have a serious mental illness, which I ignore at the risk of my own health and safety and those around me.

Today I will kick denial with what hurts it the most – truth.