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Broken

I had another broken day today 🙄

Yesterday we tried to have a nice day, it was an epic fail…I almost ended up in hospital due to having so many seizures, the day was awful & very much ruined. I was left asking myself why I even try to do anything/leave the house anymore 🙄

Being so physically unwell obviously takes a toll mentally, and after yesterday, today I’ve just been struggling hugely. I wanted to hurt myself, I felt suicidal, same old bipolar crap. Add to that a pet died unexpectedly and my bf’s parents are being absolute dicks…and yeah, it’s been a bad day.

I started to feel a little bit better this evening. I just get tired of all my disabilities have taken from me. I get tired of not being able to leave the house, or have a life, and yesterday showed that so clearly.

I posted this photo yesterday online. This was me after I’d attempted to leave the house; I’d had 29 seizures, felt dreadful, and a migraine had hit me as a result of the high number of seizures. I might have an invisible disability, but that doesn’t make it any less real…

I can’t remember if I posted about this already or not (I have no memory anymore, my brain can’t really produce new memories very well) but my bf called the hospital about my MRI results, and also asked about my EEG. He was told by the hospital that’s too far for us to travel that they have sent off two referrals to the local hospital for my EEG, because they want it done asap, but the local hospital just aren’t acting on it…how is that okay?!? đŸ˜©

I’ve had significantly less seizures today but my mood is in the pits…I’ll take that over the other way round, I guess!

2

Victorious yet anxious

Eight days ago I started using a new CBD oil, from CBD Brothers. 

I wasn’t feeling too hopeful, as I’ve tried five different CBD oils before and none have ever done that much.

Fast forward to this week, I’ve had THREE days with less than three seizures per day, and today (at 6:15pm) I’ve had just one seizure!!

This hasn’t happened in over 2 years!!!

Whilst I’m absolutely over the moon, it’s made me incredibly anxious too…will the NHS be even less interested in getting me diagnosed, if I’m having seizures less often and have found something myself that works? Seizures are the only thing the DWP seemed to take seriously – if I’m having less, will they reduce my benefit?Even though I’m still spending all day (other than an hour’s dog walk) hidden inside behind dark curtains, with the lights off…I can’t imagine they will listen.

I feel like such a dick, because here I am panicking about everything after one day of having just one seizure…but then I think hey, of course it’s going to feel strange and scary, for the last 2+ years you’ve been having dozens of seizures a day, and ANY type of big change can trigger anxiety.

So I’m just gonna have to treat myself gently, and focus on how INCREDIBLE it is that this CBD oil is helping my seizures. I could get a life back, and that is something to be celebrated, not feared.

2

A&E, nice staff & negligence

I’ve been having an awful time for seizures.

Ever since autumn hit, and the days are mostly grey and the sun sets earlier, I’ve been having 10+ seizures MORE a day than I usually do.

Saturday was awful. Mid afternoon I was out of it for over an hour, with back to back seizures and being unable to respond or understand anything between them. I was having seizures regularly all day.

At about 8pm we called 111, making it clear they were NOT tonic clonic seizures and I was not in non-convulsive status epilepticus right now. We said we were just concerned abs didn’t know what’s to go four help. The guy said he wanted to call an ambulance to bring me in, and when we said we could get the train there so as not to waste their time, he said he wanted us to travel in am ambulance.

We arrived at A&E at 9.30pm. The paramedics were lovely – asking us about our pets and really putting me at ease. They turned the lights off in the ambulance and put the blue lights on so add to be nicer on my brain. I had four seizures on the way to the hospital.

We waited about four hours at A&E then were seen by a Doctor. He did some examinations, then turned the light off in the cubicle so he could do exams where I’d need to remove my goggles. He did this himself and I didn’t ask him to do so.

He did a pupil reflex test where he shone a light in my eyes, which immediately triggered a seizure. He timed the seizure (45 seconds) and asked my partner if how I was behaving was typical – staring, unresponsive, picking at things.

When I came round he said the light was clearly a trigger, and that these were obviously absence seizures. We told him how I feel before, during, and after, and he said it was all very typical of seizures.

It was so nice to be listened to and understood!

He wanted me seen by a neurologist, but there was no way to do that right now, so he said he’d admit me to a ward and I’d spend the night there.

We were waiting in that room about three hours. Within the first hour I had a blood test, ECG, gave urine, and had blood pressure & temp taken for the 4th time. 

At about 4am we were moved into the hallway. Here the fluorescent lights were extremely bright, and I’d already had 45+ seizures that day so my brain was mush. I began to feel very out of it,  had seizures, felt awful and was panicky. I got a really bad headache and my partner got me some paracetamol. The hospital was full of noisy drunk people which was not being my head. I remember tearfully begging staff to put me somewhere dark.

Just before 5am I was moved to the ward. A consultant Dr came and did reflex tests – no lights, just tapping my joints, getting me to squeeze his fingers etc – he asked for an overview of why I was there and looked at my notes. He commented that a temp reading said I’d had a fever earlier, which was ‘weird’ but ‘probably nothing to worry about’, although he wanted to do a chest xray the next day.

At 5.25am I was left to go to sleep, although it took a long time. I was next to the brightly lit hallway which didn’t help, and the nurses walked about singing, shouting to each other and patients etc.

At 7.15am a male nurse said “turning the lights on ladies”, and fluorescent light flooded the room. I’d slept with my face under a jacket, so I emerged and grabbed my wide brimmed hat and goggles. Almost immediately I started having seizures – the lighting was an obvious trigger, along with only getting one hours sleep, stress, the heavy seizure day the day before, and I hadn’t eaten in 20 hours.

I spent the next 45ish minutes out of it, seizing, and feeling terrible physically – trembling, exhausted, nauseous. I deliberately wanted to ask for help from one of the nurses walking past, but wasn’t aware enough and couldn’t manage words. I finally tearfully stammered to one “the lights are really getting to me”. He turned the light directly above me off.

At another point the nurse who had been assigned to me for the day said “welcome back” as I came around from a seizure. Otherwise I was ignored.

At 9am a Dr and someone else came to see me. He asked how I was, and all I could think to respond was “okay…”. He asked where I lived, and it took me about 10 seconds to work it out and reply. He asked what I did for a living, and I couldn’t work out what to say so said I receive PIP. He then said something truly disgusting: “You’re too young for PIP, no? You should be out and about in the world”.

I was unfortunately too ill to respond and tell him that disability has no age limit. And don’t you think I would truly love to be able to get out in the world, rather than living a life of misery?

He finished with “you want to go home today, yes?”, and I confusedly said yes. Because I did, after I’d Breen seen by a neurologist and gotten help. He then said I was released to go.

The nurse assigned to me came and asked if I had someone who could come pick me up. I was still confused, but said my partner. I called my partner and didn’t know what to say other than come to me haha.

I sat there for a while, not understanding at all what was going on, then gathered my things and tried to find someone to ask if I could leave and wait outside. I just wanted out. I stood in the hallway for several minutes, but was too out of it to understand how to catch anyone’s eye and ask, and everyone just walked past me. I had a seizure, then walked further up the corridor and finally said to a passing woman “excuse me, if I’m being discharged can I go wait outside?” She checked with a nurse and said yes.

I left the ward and walked down a few corridors before having to stop, very confused, and have a seizure. Once I’d come around I started walking, stumbled across an exit sign, and left.

I called my partner to let him know where I was heading, then called my parents. They were furious about how I’d been treated, and my mum insisted on calling the hospital. Staff were happy to speak to her about confidential information to do with me without asking for my consent.

My mum was told several HUGE lies.

  1. That I’d had a CT scan, and the results showed I wasn’t having seizures. This didn’t happen. I never had a CT scan. I didn’t have ANY examinations that could identify seizures. When my mum called back to confirm this, she was told it was a ‘mistake’ and that they can’t be expected to know details of 43 patients at once!
  2. They said that no staff had witnessed seizures in 12 hours of observation, and the reason I was released from the ward was because I hadn’t had seizures that morning. I was able to tell my mum I’d been having many seizures since 7.15am, and one staff member actually referred to them by saying “welcome back”. There were also the paramedics, two A&E nurses, and the A&E Dr who had witnessed seizures.

My mum was furious.

She’s filing a formal complaint for us, so we can rest and recover from the experience. I’m still having a ton of seizures and feel awful everyday, and medical professionals are still refusing to help. 

And I’ve learnt to never go to A&E for my seizures again!!!

2

The many faces of mania

About a week ago we noticed the very beginning of hypomania.

Since then it’s rocketed upwards. It’s felt VERY odd feeling this way, I don’t remember when my last manic episode was, and especially not where I got this manic!

All of yesterday was awful, but by the evening I was entirely broken.

For six nights I hadn’t gotten more than 6 hours sleep, with the smallest amount being less than 4 hours. I was jittery, couldn’t focus on anything, was irritable, and constantly moving – rocking, flailing my legs, punching myself. I felt like I was crawling out my skin.

My bf gave me half a valium in the evening. That usually knocks me right out; my mania was so intense I was left very much awake, but much more lucid and able to concentrate. I took another half before bed, and slept 5 blissful hours last night!

I’ve had half a valium early today, and will take another this evening. Must keep the mania at bay!!!

Anywho, here are the many faces of mania – insomnia, intense energy and frustration, bouncing off the walls.

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Why must I be out in the world?!

We signed up to the new GP surgery today, the other one in our town.

We get there, and the receptionist says that although we’ll be signed to this surgery, most appts will be at the other surgery, a 25 minute bus ride away…whyyyyy?!

Apparently you can see Dr’s at our surgery, it’s just a longer wait as there are fewer appt slots there. We said that was fine as the previous surgery left you waiting 3 weeks for an emergency appt XD

Even so, apparently we have to have a ‘meet and greet’ appt with the GP before we will be registered, and that has to be at the far away surgery…this sucks because I’m already going to freaking out (I haven’t had a physical appt at a surgery in a few years, and this will be a new surgery with a new Dr!) and the bus will make me very sensitive seizures too. Add some stress and I’ll be fucked >__<

The receptionist said the lighting was dim at that surgery too, when I asked, but my bf still wants to try and get the meet and greet at the nearby one. Idk.

Filling the questionnaire in was fun, considering all the information they demanded from you, and I had no idea what to put for epilepsy…I’m 98% certain I have epilepsy (as my seizures are light triggers, no t tonic clonic, and I have auras – all are incredibly rare with NES), but as I’m not diagnosed I couldn’t circle it.

In the end I circled everything, and put seizures under investigation, which is what a previous Dr wrote on my fit note.

Whilst we were out I also goggled up and got to go in the second hand bookstore, where I haven’t been able to go for years due to seizures and lighting. I love this place, and found a very old interesting dog breed book 😀

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Seizures aren’t all the same!

Did you know there are over 40 different type of seizures?

When people hear the word epilepsy, they think of people dropping to the floor and shaking…but that isn’t even the most common type of seizure!!

The most common type of seizure is complex partial (also called focal impaired) seizures; where the person looks conscious, and may move or wander, but in actual fact they have lost consciousness. Think of the phrase “the lights are on but nobody’s home”!

I have simple and complex partial seizures. I find on an almost daily basis that because my seizures don’t involve dropping to the ground, people don’t take it anywhere near as seriously. This pisses me off, because I deal with the following yet I have it ‘easy’?!

  1. Over a dozen seizures daily that last 1-2.5 minutes at a time
  2. Clusters, where I have half a dozen seizures in a 20 minute period
  3. A complete loss of control about where these seizures happen…it can be mid sentence, when I’m eating, surrounded by people, staring at someone etc
  4. Feeling exhausted afterwards
  5. Feeling spacey, slow-brained and confused
  6. After complex partial seizures I act erratic, and may shout swear words, burst into laughter, or gesticulate hugely with my hands. People have called me disgusting, because they assumed I was drunk / on drugs
  7. Before about 70% of my seizures I experience an aura, which lets me know a seizure is incoming. My auras vary from flashing white specks (the most common), to a panic aura. I feel flooded with panic, and often end up hyperventilating and crying, THEN having a seizure
  8. Losing large chunks of memory, hours at a time
  9. Not being able to go out without wearing gigantic ski goggles
  10. Having to avoid bright lights, flashing lights, arcades, the cinema, and bodies of water
  11. Having several migraines a week, because my brain is mush from all the seizures

Epilepsy is an invisible illness. There’s so much suffering going on under the surface that passers by don’t see.

For anyone interested, this is me during a simple partial seizure

0

CBD oil blues

CBD oil has not been good to me.

CBD oil is quoted as helping EVERYTHING, from anxiety disorders, depression, epilepsy, to stroke and cancer. It’s natural, and supposedly has no side effects. It starts working within a few days to a week, and the results are amazing.

Only that hasn’t been the case for me at all.

I’ve tried A LOT of different CBD oils, various strains, strengths and from various companies. In the UK the strength of an oil is measured in %, I’ve had oils vary as much as 3-30%. The 30% was one of the least effective!!

First thing to be aware of, dosing instructions from the companies can’t be trusted!

Second thing, you can indeed have side effects from CBD oil. For me, this was migraine. I also know somebody else who experienced migraines when starting CBD oil. It also messed with my sleep depending on the dose; low dose and I slept too little, with a higher dose my sleep was deep and peaceful.

The most effective oil for me has been a full spectrum 4% CBD oil with traces of THC. The company recommended 3-12 drops a day, which did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me.

A friend told me most oils require a daily dose of around 30 drops, especially for seizure disorders. They are notoriously hard to treat. Sure enough we upped my dose to 18 drops a day, and saw a huge improvement.

It reduced my triggers (eg. cars going past with headlights on no longer caused seizures, in fact they barely made me feel spacey). It shortened the length of my seizures, and meant I bounced back / recovered from a seizure much faster. It also greatly reduced seizure rage, which was incredibly important to me, and I felt better in myself – more “me”!

However, after three days with less than a dozen seizures and feeling really good (for me 😉 ), I had to switch to a new CBD oil as mine had run out.

This one is an 8% CBD oil from the same company, but it’s an entirely different strain.

Because I had to switch, I fell right back down the epilepsy pit. Today has been fucking awful, I might as well have been taking nothing.

I’ve had a lot of LONG seizures, experienced a huge cluster, and was left feeling extremely physically unwell with a migraine. I haven’t noticed any triggers today, nothing that would usually cause seizures; no bright lights, missing sleep etc. It’s ridiculous.

We were going to start this oil at a low dose and gradually build it up, but fuck that I need relief!! Instead of a starting dose of 5 drops we’re doing 14, tomorrow will be 16 drops and the day after 18. We’ll see how I’m doing then.

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Lose control, gain control *ed trigs*

From the age of 16 – 21 I battled anorexia.

I first recovered at 20 years old, then had  a slip when I was 21. My partner helped me recover, and for several years after that I maintained a healthy weight. I was then put on a variety of psych meds and gained a lot of weight, and was never really able to lose all of it again…regardless my body image was much better and I was enjoying food, even if I did have periods where I despised the way I looked.

This past month has seen those ED thoughts raise their ugly heads, and I didn’t know why (after 6 years since my last blip) it had happened…I figured it out a few days ago, I think.

I started having a lot of seizures within the past 6 months, and I think the lack of control and helplessness has definitely pushed me towards ED thoughts (lots of control there!), and on top of that one of my dogs is very sick. Not only a huuuuge stressor, but my initial descent into disordered eating at the age of 12 (and my ‘blip’ at 21) were triggered by family members being terminally ill.

Having these thoughts fill my head again after so long is truly, truly bizarre…and, if I’m honest, extremely exciting.

I am thrilled about the control, the inevitable weight loss, and falling back into old habits is like putting on a comfortable old pair of shoes. It’s comforting, it really is.

I’m hugely massive now, so losing weight isn’t a concern, and I’ll never get anywhere near my lowest weight. I’d love to have that BMI of 15 again, but lets be honest it’s never going to happen.

Regardless I’m happy to be falling back into this, but I won’t let it get silly.

I’ve only acknowledged and acted on the the thoughts for four days so far, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how easy it has been so far. I’ve lost weight already and the comfort it’s brought has been great. It’s just…so so weird after not even thinking like this for many years.

 

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My anxiety is drowning me

I haven’t had anxiety like this for months, and it suuuucks >__<

I’ve always had pretty bad anxiety, ever since I was in my early teens. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and yeah I do spend a lot of time anxious about a lot of things – some realistic worries, some really far-fetched.

Normally I can cope with these fears. Even if I am overwhelmed for a short period of time by anxious thoughts, I can often bounce back and push forwards.

But sometimes my anxiety gets so overwhelming that I can’t think, or cope, or even breathe. It’s not a panic attack, because I can act normal on the outside (which I can’t when I’m having a panic attack), and it lasts for days instead of minutes.

This past week my anxiety has been phenomenal; I’ve felt suffocated 24/7. It’s had me crying in public when walking to the train station, staring at a wall digging my nails into my palm to try stay in control, and having to stand still and breathe deeply because I’m so dizzy with fear.

I’ve lived with severe anxiety for so long, and I’m so tired of it.

I know a lot of people see anxiety as being a ‘nothing’ illness, as something that’s not so bad. I’ve even had CPNs and Social Workers tell me to “just don’t think about” what’s worrying me.

And it’s ridiculous because my anxiety is crippling.

It gives me headaches, and makes my chest hurt (which makes me even more anxious). It makes me cry, feel suicidal, and struggle to breathe. I have Bipolar Disorder and constant psychosis, and we’ve always said my anxiety is one of my most pervasive and difficult symptoms to live with.

An anxiety disorder isn’t worrying a little about something, but being able to brush it aside and carry on with your day…it RUINS you.

It’s exhausting.

Just needed to vent I guess 🙂

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Everyone with Bipolar can work

Apparently I filled in a survey about Bipolar disorder at the end of 2014.

I don’t remember the survey or what it was for, but it’s somehow tied into the NHS.

Yesterday I got an email with some follow-up questions; they asked me to rate some questions according to how important I thought they were.

Filling the survey out I got more and more depressed and angry at how they were marketing Bipolar – I wish there had been a comment box at the end of every question so I could have added my thoughts.

The entire thing was geared towards people thinking that you can recover from Bipolar, it is the person who has Bipolar’s job to manage themselves and their symptoms, and people with Bipolar can lead ‘normal’ lives with jobs etc.

One question asked how important I thought it was that the Bipolar person be “trained” to manage their recovery using the following methods:

diet, exercise, sleep, yoga, meditation, rest, routine, sunlight, change of job, avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs

Uhuh, yep. Because if I eat right, exercise, sleep well (in a mood episode? How can I magic myself into that?!), meditate, rest, have a routine, sit in the sun, manage a job (HA!) and don’t drink or do drugs…I’ll be fine, all my symptoms will disappear!

As someone who has Bipolar, I am so tired of constantly having this belief that I can and should be working shoved down my throat.

Almost every book on Bipolar I’ve read talks about the fact I should definitely be well enough to work. Websites list staggering percentages of people with Bipolar who are symptom-less and work a gazillion hours every day.

Everything is pushed towards making sure the Bipolar person *knows* that recovery is possible and they can and must work.

Work is good for them, work needs to be what they do, if they aren’t working they are lazy…blah blah blah, it’s all bullshit.

Fact of the matter is Bipolar is a lifelong illness, and those with severe Bipolar probably can’t work. Isn’t it obvious that those who have no stable episodes obviously can’t hold down a job? Or those who have tried a dozen plus medications, and none of them have helped long-term, are going to lose their job when depression or mania hits?

I’m tired of this illness not being taken seriously.

When I read things or am told about how well people with Bipolar do, or the fact I should be able to work, it literally never helps…it makes me sad and lonely, because if everyone else is fine why am I so fucked?

It also makes me anxious because if most people with Bipolar hold down impressive jobs, that’s gonna mean even more pressure on me to get working before I’m anywhere near ready. The rest of the world already sees me as a lazy, scrounging shit muncher and it’s not pleasant.

Although my last social worker and I ended on bad terms, the one thing I really appreciated was her ‘get back to work plan’ (I asked about getting a job whilst hypomanic).

She said I’d need to be stable for around two years before I should think about getting a ‘proper’ job

After 6 months stable I should start attending a group one day a week and slowly build it up to several days a week; after another 6 months stable I can start volunteering once a week and slowly build it up; after another six months I can get a part-time job one day a week, and then after a further six months I can think about building up days or getting a few days of a full-time job.

That’s what we should be telling people who have a long history of severe Bipolar disorder.

There shouldn’t be a rush to get people working; their health should come before this need to get them in a job. We need to admit that some people with Bipolar might never be able to work, whereas for others it might be a breeze.

Bipolar is an illness where each case is individual.

I also found these questions from the survey laughable.

What are the most effective ways to train and support a person with bipolar so they are motivated and able to manage the condition themselves?

How am I supposed to manage my Bipolar? I do what I can, yet everyday is hell.

I try to eat healthy, I take vitamins, I get 1-5 hours exercise every day, I listen to my body, we monitor my symptoms, I colour, I read, I handle my pets, I take on my pets’ responsibilities when I am able, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs…yet I haven’t had a stable day for years, and I experience psychosis every day.

Sometimes an illness is too much – would you expect someone with a serious physical illness to manage it themselves?

M4: What can we learn about managing bipolar from the people who are managing the condition well?

As I said earlier: Bipolar is different for every individual.

Even if you take someone with the same type of Bipolar…one person with Bipolar 1 might experience one episode every few years, whereas someone else might have rapid cycling Bipolar and switch every month or so. There are huge variations in people who rapid cycle; some of them have stable episodes between being ill, others have none.

Nobody is the same.

One person might be virtually symptom-less, yet if you had them tell someone who is very ill what they are doing to manage (exercising, eating vegetables, charting symptoms) the ill person might already be doing it and more.

Bipolar isn’t predictable, and it’s very unique to each person suffering from it.

I think Bipolar is one of the most misunderstood illnesses. There are very few people who actually understand its’ patterns – people think it’s a laughable illness (“I mean, everyone’s happy and sad at some point aren’t they, and that’s all Bipolar is!!”) or something to joke about (“the weather is so Bipolar!”) or they think it’s not that serious.
It’s about time professionals started taking this illness seriously and actually trying to help those who have it, instead of expecting the ill person to do it all themselves…