Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Managing Mania

Last week was a tough one. David struggled to control his mixed-episode mood all weekend, but it bloomed into full mania on Wednesday night. It was the worst I have seen him since he started on the lithium two years ago.

He came home from our cleaning job with his mind racing, and an urgent need to have me write a story about "them" that was going through his mind. (When he starts talking about "Them" I know he's having hallucinations going on.) He eventually took his usual meds and went to bed. I woke up to some banging a few hours later, only to find him completely delusional and about to do some serious self-harm. I was able to calm him down and gave him some zyprexa that took care of the worst of the episode. It was a long night. I talked to his pdoc the next day and he said that I did the right thing; made me feel a whole lot better. He also told me that the zyprexa wasn't causing the sour mood, it was the mixed-episode mood he was in, and that David should continue with the meds he's been prescribed. Since then, David has been doing better and started taking the zyprexa again. The whole episode, though, was emotionally draining.

These episodes leave me feeling vulnerable, and it takes me a few days to recover my equilibrium. This time was no exception. However, there are things that I can do to help myself get back into a good place: prayer, reading the scriptures, listening to good music, and working on on-going projects around the house and at work.

This time around I made good progress toward cleaning out closets and going through boxes of family pictures. David helped with the pictures; it was fun sifting through them and looking at how much the family has grown and changed. And I'm terribly excited to realize that I only have two more closets and three sets of drawers to go before the house will be organized (sort of, as much as I'm capable of organizing anyway). Then it's on to the fun stuff of painting and decorating rooms, working on family history and scrapbooks, and knitting, crocheting, etc.

It's always amazing to me how when I feel really discouraged someone comes along and says exactly what I need to hear, often without even realizing it. This time was no exception, and I consider them tender mercies from the Lord who never forsakes me. An example of that happened at the ward party a few weekends ago. The young women, ages 12-18, delivered singing telegrams, and I was lucky to receive one from Sailor Jeff and his wife. They sang "Wind Beneath My Feet" by Bette Midler. It was so sweet it reduced me to tears. It was even more sweet because I knew the girls who were singing and taught some of them when they were 10-11 years old.

I used music more as a therapy, and that has helped lift my spirits. David also discovered that listening to a quiet classical music radio station at night helps him relax and sleep better than anything else he's tried.

I was raised in a house filled with music; my mother had a lovely soprano voice and used to sing as she worked around the house, as well as in local choirs. I, unfortunately, didn't inherit that talent, but I do like listening to music. My first husband was also a musician, and he expanded my musical tastes. When I need to feel better I listen to hymns; they soothe my soul.

My mother-in-law is a good friend with one of the tablernacle organists, Linda Margetts, and last year she invited us to a noontime organ recital at the tabernacle. After the recital, she gave us a personal lecture about the organ. It was fun to see it up close and personal, and the music was heavenly.

Spring is coming, and I'm expecting better days soon.

Here's a reminder of things to come.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Of Valentines Day and the Super Bowl

A few days ago I read a story in the Wall Street Journal, "Happy Couples Kiss and Tell" about how long-married happy couples have stayed together. Among the interesting tidbits are forgiveness, hard work, finding the middle grounds, laughing together, keeping some things separate, and never giving up. I agree with all those tips, and add another one: sharing common interests with each other.

For example, in addition to our children (obviously) and trips where we like to explore less-than-well-used roads, we like to watch sports together: baseball playoffs, basketball (the Jazz), and especially football.

David is a Denver Bronco fan, more so when John Elway (his hero) played. I am a diehard Green Bay Packer fan that goes back to when I was growing up with two older brothers. Since they played football in high school, and I liked being around them, I learned how to watch a football game during the Vince Lombardi era. We have a collection of Bronco and Packer items at our house; one of my treasures is a cheesehead that a friend gave me.

Over the years we have enjoyed a friendly rivalry when Green Bay and Denver played (especially when they played each other in the Super Bowl). We enjoyed watching the game on Sunday, just the two of us. He was cheering for the Colts, and I was firmly in the Saints' camp. I was delighted they won; what a great thing for them and their city! Now it's on to watching the Olympics.

Granddaughter Gabby and my Cheesehead

Update on David: He's starting to struggle again with no sleep, noises, and a very sour mood. He talked to his doctor yesterday, and instead of taking his meds at night, he'll try them during the day. The problem is that David is drug resistant. I think part of it is his body chemistry, and part of it is his subconscious fighting the effects of the meds. When he had knee surgery 15 years ago I asked his surgeon to give him some valium, hoping it would help him relax and let his knee heal. It had the opposite effect. He went manic, and remodeled our bathroom all one night, and the next day, when I was dozing for 5 minutes, he walked 2 blocks to the neighborhood playground with Jeff and Katie. When I found him there, I admit that I colored the air blue, and let him figure out how to get home on his own. That was the last of that type of medicine. To be fair, David hadn't been diagnosed yet, and we had no idea about what to do with his mood swings.

The doctor is going to a medical convention this week and taking David's file with him to consult with others about him because he's tried all the med combos that he can. Here's praying he comes back with some more ideas! In the meantime, I try to give him some encouragement, and support, and lots of space. That last item is important for my sanity; he can be sarcastic when he's in this mood, and I don't want to add fuel to the fire. I've been spending the last hour of the evening reading and doing some writing. It helps to have that time to myself so I can unwind.

On the family scene: We have a new grandson, Eric Jay! He was born on Wednesday to Soldier Brian and Tania at Ft. Lewis Washington. I'm so happy he's here and healthy; they have had some real struggles in getting their two babies here. I am planning on going to see them a little later this spring; can't wait!

Sailor Jeff and his wife Nikki are finished with his Navy deployment and will be home tomorrow! They're still working on their plans, but he will be in the Navy reserves, which will give him some income and benefits while they decide what the next step in their lives will be. He did a lot of growing up while in the Navy; I'm very proud of him and Nikki.

We are also having a baptism for 8-year-old grandson, Dylan, on Saturday. And a ward breakfast (we're on the activities committee) in the morning. It should be a good day filled with friends and family activities. I'm just hoping David won't get overwhelmed with it all.

Wishing you all a happy Valentines day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dealing with Extreme Anxiety

David went to his Dr. last week. He was suffering from extreme anxiety and lots of joint pain. It's a good thing he did; the Dr. said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown caused by bipolar. He gave David a complete physical, including blood tests. We're still waiting for the results of those. He also put David on Zyprexa, with the approval of his pdoc. It's so great to have two doctors who work together and take David's illness seriously. All he has to do is call his Dr., and they fit him in almost immediately because they know he's high risk. I'm grateful for them.

The zyprexa is working well for David. It's taken the edge off the noise in his head that was driving him to distraction. He's also been able to get more sleep, which is always nice. His mood was miserably hard to deal with all week, but he's finally coming through the bad cycle. He gets combative, anxious, edgy, and paranoid during mania. I know he's finally coming out of it when he talks to me about what's been going on in his mind, and we can have long, healthy discussions about his illness, and how to better handle it.

I've been keeping a record of his moods since he started this new medicine. And trying to keep my own mood upbeat. Not always an easy thing. I'm still figuring out how to manage my reactions to David's mood cycles. Sometimes I do better than at other times. But one firm rule is to not argue with him when he's manic, and to give him space, while I do my own things. I also rely heavily on faith and prayer to get me through it.

It can be so draining to deal with, but even so, I feel that it's worth the effort. And next week promises to be better. We are expecting a new grandbaby to arrive, and Sailor Jeff and his wife will be coming home for good!