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My Bipolar Story

My troubles began in elementary school.  Attention seeking behavior, distracting the class, alcohol and tobacco use, being labeled a trouble maker.  I always say a loveable trouble maker. I already had issues with body image, and mine was poor. And it still follows me today.

Grades seven and eight I was more the class clown, I tried hard to focus but school was hard. I was still a trouble maker, getting caught smoking in the bathroom, pulling a fire alarm on a dare…but loveable.

Then late Grade 8 and the remainder of my time at that school was very difficult.  The depression set in, self-injurious behavior, eating disorders both bulimia and anorexia, it all set in.

I was admitted to the hospital one summer, the summer of grade nine I reckon.  I was admitted for anorexia. It was then that the war on medications started.

I had the most caring, intelligent and supportive doctor.  He was my psychiatrist. I started seeing him when I was fifteen and I just found him on google after 20 years and I actually emailed him.  I wanted to let him know I am doing well. I have survived. I told him I had been diagnosed with bipolar.

My psychiatrist continued to see me past my postpartum depression.   I had issues agreeing to medication. For eight months my psychiatrist tried to get me to agree to meds.  Finally, he handed me some paper that had names of different antidepressants. He said, “Pick one.” He was very firm and I knew I had to do something.

I took the reading material home and read through their descriptions, side effects and such.  I decided on one, I can still remember the name. Luvox. That was my second medication. The one from my adolescents was discontinued because of side effects. When the dose became therapeutic it sent me into hypomania. When we decreased the medication my depression would be back.  At some point, I stopped taking them and it appears I self-medicated with alcohol for several years.

My family doctor counsels me now, and I have a psychiatrist at the Mental Health Hospital.  My family doctor and I have hour-long sessions to check how stable I am and as a way to get out stuff that I hold back.

He put me on an antidepressant for my postpartum depression, yes, a second time.  He said to me, “If you were my wife you would be on antidepressants.” I took them without hesitation.  But then my behavior changed, I would be up till all hours, I would spend more money than I earned, I engaged in sexual experimentation with my husband at the time and drank plenty of alcohol.,

My family doctor called my adolescent psychiatrist to talk about his concerns.  My psychiatrist told him he was concerned I would develop into having bipolar and recommended that I be assessed at the Mental Health Hospital. 

I met up with one doctor spring of 2005.  I filled out all the required paperwork for the assessment.  At the end of it, the dr told me he couldn’t diagnose me till I quit drinking, as I had issues with that as well.  My moods continued to fluctuate but at least I wasn’t full out depressed.

I drank and partied so much that summer.  I think I knew it was time I addressed my drinking and I guess I wanted to go out with a bang.  We had bought a cottage the year before. It holds many memories and we had amazing times. But I drank, I continued to drink.  Until one night I crashed. Big time.

I ended up going to the hospital, on my own.  I had been talking to my psychiatrist that had been seeing me on the phone.  I was feeling suicidal. I had a plan that haunts me. I went to the hospital drunk and suicidal and a bit of a sh*t, yelling out stuff from my room. I was admitted.

I was released in the morning, basically a drunk holdover.  And enough to keep me safe. My ex-husband picked me up, with my two young kids in the back of the car.  I vowed at that moment to quit drinking I didn’t want the kids to grow up with me being drunk and fucked up to put it nicely (or not).

I already knew that alcohol was bad for me, bad for the meds and bad for my MS.  So I think I knew my time of not drinking was close to being over. It took until November for me to get help with not drinking, and I was so fortunate to be able to do the program with the Mental Health Hospital.

I connected with them immediately and was placed in their day program for drug and alcohol abuse and I went each day.

Once the alcohol was out of my body, and I am still taking the antidepressants, I ended up with some mania and they tried to treat that when I was in the residential program for addictions.  They put me on the “dumb skinny“ medication, Topomax.

I finished the residential program, and toward the end, they communicated with my Mental Health Hospital psychiatrist and begged for me to be assessed by the doctor who did the initial assessment. They told him my diagnosis was essential to my staying sober.

I had another appointment with this same doctor and after another interview and more paperwork he diagnosed me as having Bipolar II.  He removed all the meds I was on, the Topomax and the Trazadone for sleep. And I was med free for a month and it was hell. The month later he started me on a new medication, Lamotrigine.  But it had to be given slowly because it has the potential of having an allergic reaction of a rash and apparently this can be fatal. So I was quite nervous.

Now, it is my most important medication as it surprisingly also helps with my MS symptoms of tingles.

I had another couple of meds to control the mania, but they weren’t really effective and  I had issues taking them, or, not taking them. Oh, lithium. The worst bipolar med I have been on.  I had all the side effects, weight gain, acne and developed problems with my thyroid, so I had to start meds for that too.

I wasn’t good at taking my pills. I was back at work.  I would take less than my dose prescribed and I would be manic, I guess up until now, it was mainly hypomania that they were trying to control.  If I took the full dose I would be like a zombie. Either way, it was hard to work, especially working in psychiatry myself with adolescents.

I am not sure what happened but in 2010 I had my first full-blown manic episode.  I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even lie down the pressure to move was just too strong.  By day three I was getting a bit scared and I called my mom, who had been worryied about me.

I called the doctor the next day and was seen right away.  That’s when I was diagnosed with Bipolar I. The doctor gave me a new mood stabilizer, an antipsychotic medication, Zeldox.  I was given a high dose, to squash the mania and it worked. I settled down. I think I know what actually triggered it. My boyfriend at the time went to British Columbia for a visit. I used to talk to him until four o’clock in the morning.  We had MSN and I would fall asleep with my computer on so that we could “sleep together”. The time difference, trying to follow the time of British Columbia, I believe was the culprit to my mania.

In the next couple of years, I was left with more hypomania.  But I had some full manic episodes as well but not needing hospitalization.  The relationship I was in was very unhealthy, abusive and caused me great anxiety.  I was mainly hypomanic at that time. The doctor tried to change my med to Abilify but I didn’t like that one. In one month I gained ten pounds, I didn’t like my headspace, I was irritable.  I would get angry. I asked to be changed back to Zeldox.

My next full-blown manic episode happened with my new partner about two or three years ago. ( A really good relationship we are getting married) 

And this leads me to another story of my tattoo history which I will include now as it is one of my triggers.

My Tattoo Story

I was 20 When I first started to think of tattoos.  My boyfriend had one and was going for another one. The only thing I could think of was a bee in the hollow between the collar bone and top of my breast.  Well, I am very grateful I didn’t get it. But actually, now, I have so many I wouldn’t have cared. Two opposite thoughts.

I did not actually get a tattoo till I was twenty-nine I think.  It was after my son was born, maybe his first birthday. I had made friends with a couple of girls at work and one of them talked about getting a tattoo.  I had already been playing with henna tattoos I already knew what I wanted, and I knew on wanted it on the top of my foot so I could see it in sandals. It was a little Mendhi design.  Quite pretty. My friend finally finished designing her tattoo and actually had a client draw it. We went together. We both had the tops of our feet tattooed. One of the most painful of tattoos. 

That was my introduction.

That was my pleasure.  

And from there I decided I liked the whole process of tattooing when they get their equipment out and start setting up.  I like to be a part of that, that is part of my joy. Methodical. Routine. Familiarity. Flirting. Artists affair. LMAO.  Well, I love every bit of getting a tattoo. My favorite is that moment you know what you want to have tattooed. And you do research if needed, and you will find that perfect picture for your tattoo.  And then I couldn’t get it out of my head and wanted to get it right away, that day. Or the next.

I actually have a tattooist that will do that for me. He likes my funny sexy nature (I think).  I can tell him dramatic stories. He would love the one that has just happened. 

I have called him up, I have messaged him on Instagram.  I have gotten, “Come on to the shop we will chat.” And so I’d go down, we would chat for a few minutes and plan the date.  Sometimes he will say, “Can you come back in a couple of hours and I can do you today?” That’s the love I feel. That pretty personal relationship we have.  I think I am less flirty now, oh oops on last visit. 

I just can’t wait to get another tattoo. I just have to think about it.  But shit. I can’t right now because of my chemo. I can tell my body is taking longer to heal things.  Sigh. that killed that momentary buzz, of “Yes, yes that’s what I need! A tattoo!!”

Well, I started getting more tattoos,  by 2007-08 I had about seven or eight tattoos.  So yes by the age of 36, I had those, It was a yearly thing initially.  Eight tattoos in 8 years is pretty basic. I had a few more by the time I met Neil, let’s say I had a total of ten tattoos.  This was 2013. In six years I have gotten about thirty tattoos.

After I met Neil I had a flurry of tattoo ideas. I am often quite manic when I start thinking about tattoos.  But Neil likes them, unlike my last relationship, I think I was rebelling, wow, I just now realized as I am writing indeed I was rebelling.  I was helping myself become independent. 

I do love thinking about tattoos, but I started getting them more frequently.  I started having a true hunger for that buzz. Just to clear my head. Very therapeutic… and I enjoy the pain. 

As I had such a need for tattoos I often would transfer money from my visa to my bank account so that I could get one right away.  So three hundred dollars, sometimes four hundred dollars would come from my visa each time. Sometimes I paid cash, but it always ends in me dipping into my visa one way or another.

Then it happened.  I had a twenty thousand dollar tab with Visa.  I did buy a two thousand five hundred dollar car, and I shopped so very heavily.  My tattoos, that’s where I really lost it. I was getting tattooed every week, one would say he couldn’t tattoo me anymore so I would go to a new artist, and I would play them off on each other.  In a months span I had gotten four tattoos.* I will refer back to this. 

 I also started getting multiple piercings.

 Neil came with me to my appointment with my psychiatrist.  I told her what was going on. She seemed very concerned. She talked about admitting me and then she asked Neil what his thoughts were.

“Yes, she needs to be admitted.”  He replied rather quickly.

 Neil later told me that was the hardest thing he had to do. I told him it was the best thing he could have done.

Oh Dear God yes.  My weekend pass, from the psych ward, I spoke to the doctor.  She asked what my plans were.

“Oh, just hang out with my boyfriend watching movies. “  I replied

She said, “Are you planning any tattoos?”

 “Oh no,”  I replied holding back a snicker. 

Oh, I f*cking knew I was going and man did ever make me more manic.  Ask Neil and my best friend.

And yes. I  got one of my favorite designs.  We were all sitting in the lounge when I was on my pass and I was, of course, talking about tattoos, ya I was still going on about them a week into treatment.  I discovered one of my “real name” meanings is a bee but also found out that it means warrior. I found the best symbol and I knew exactly where I was going to put it.  It is on my hand between the thumb and first finger. It is a symbol of a warrior and I asked my tattooist to make it pretty and he put dainty little flowers around it.

I love showing off my tattoo as a warrior, as at first glance it looks like flowers and their stems.  Wish I could load photo. Oh, I can on my blog. Somehow.(I did it!!)

And there you go, my first inpatient stay.   I would not have stopped.

*For those of you wondering what’s the big deal about getting so many tattoos.  Tattoos are only recommended, one in 3 months or even six months. t is important for your body to be able to heal and recover before you tattoo again.

Without doing this your body has less of a chance to fight any potential bacteria or infection.  It can make you physically sick as all your stores of fighting cells are going to be depleted. My piercer told me to take zink but after she pierced me when I left her office, I went straight in the chair with my tattooist.  She told me again to take zinc. I had the tattoo parlor concerned about me. And I am sure I would have gotten the “Do not serve.” If I persisted. So I am involving myself in risky situations, my judgment clouded, my full obsessions of finding that tattoo the and the amount of money I had spent and got in debt with.  I wasn’t functioning well on a day to day level because all my energies would go to one thing, oh, and I would draw on myself and take pics of myself and try and find what suits that part of the body, I don’t know how many times I have drawn tattoos on my body.

I have been a bit off about tattoos lately because I really can’t afford it with my new situation of not having a twenty thousand dollar credit card to borrow from and relying on my salary to pay for house bills and life.

But I have two more planned, maybe three.  I want my side piece to extend over the front with the same design, distracting the eye away from the tummy tuck scar I have.. I was supposed to have this before my Chemo for my MS.  I tried twice. I had to cancel the first to help my dad, and then suddenly my nurse told me I am starting the chemo soon, so I thought well I had better not and canceled again. Part of me wonders if not being able to have it twice is a sign that maybe I shouldn’t do it.  I can’t imagine the tummy tuck and two c-sections and a hysterectomy scar looking any worse then it does, to me, and maybe if I had some nice cherry blossoms scattered across the area I would feel better.

I wouldn’t mind one on my left hip, maybe a continuation of the same thing.  You know what cherry blossoms mean? Beauty. That is why I got the first piece on my ribs.  I decided to do this, again in rebellion big time but so f*cking happy I did it, I needed it. I needed to feel that about myself.  I needed to see me, and as I started to I think, I started to realize I wasn’t in a good place and I deserved better, I was taking care of myself.  For me. That is the beauty of my ribs being done in cherry blossoms. 

Neil had the idea for me to extend that tattoo down my hip.  “Was just a thought,” he said. I like thoughts if they mean that it is my permission to go get more tattoos.  And that when it started with Neil. I actually now have it from ribs down my hip and leg, past my knee. I had gone into the shop to see Darrin back in 2009 or 2010.  So I have known him for a very long time. And only have gone to him with the exception of my mania playing him off of another artist. They didn’t know though, I just told Darrin the last time I saw him.

I now have about 42 tattoos.  About 32 tattoos in 6 years. Do the math.  All of it. My canvas is worth a lot of money. Snicker.

My psychiatrist added Seroquel to my meds when I was in the hospital and she wanted me to continue taking them.

I am on a sliding scale with my Seroquel, which is a bit risky for me because it is based on my judgment.  Currently, I am trying to ride the manic side which means less Seroquel. Ps, I have a rather large tattoo on my ribs that reads  “Ride the wave.’” 

And sadly enough maybe I try and trigger the mania, less Seroquel, more stimulation.  I don’t know how writing will go because I am starting to hyperfocus. I am yearning for an all-nighter to write.  I know that will trigger something. On a scale of one to ten, I am about six or seven. Maybe. Maybe seven and a half.

I am not a good role model.

Then there is the dark mania when negative thoughts fill my brain at a rapid pace.  It’s when the mania gets out of control. I have other triggers like shopping, buying pets (lizards)  but not just one, I had eight lizards, two dogs, two birds, and two aquariums. Mania much? Dark mania is where I can’t focus when the simple things like cooking for my kids overwhelming me.  Neil has actually taken me to the hospital for mania. I never stayed back then but they would give me more meds.

Sometimes when it gets too much, even lately, I will be good and take more Seroquel.

If I still feel uncomfortable, that is when I wish for another admission.  Completely destimulating me, I find refuge in the white walls and no clutter.  But I can’t bring my own blanket or pillows. Which sucks.

I might be getting close to hospitalization now.  I know how to stop it but the allure of mania is too great.  I need someone to force my meds on me. 

But not yet. I am having fun.

I  play with my Seroquel at times but I always take my Lamotrigine, Zeldox and random amounts of Seroquel at the very least.  I don’t take a high dose, although I did when I was in the midst of moving, that was really really hard for me and I would have been admitted if I asked, but I didn’t have time with doing all the move stuff.  I had to get through it.

That is my up to date, I continue to have mania or very least hypomania at this point.  I am doing well and feel well for now. It is a good mania, the place where I enjoy being.

Thank you for reading my story.


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Christie F.

Welcome to my blog. I have been journal writing for years. I took a course in Creative writing and found I enjoy writing short stories and poetry. I write more when I am hypomanic or manic.
I went into Rehab for Alcohol Addictions and have been sober for fourteen years.
Shortly after I quit drinking I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2, I have since been diagnosed with Bipolar 1.
I enjoy talking about my story, for people to learn or relate. I try and have a healthy lifestyle and try to use my coping strategies. Life is just too boring without Bipolar, it is a blessing but yet sometimes a curse.
I am currently working on a book and dream of publishing one day.
I am so excited to have found Wordpress.
This is my new adventure.

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