Thunder Can’t Hurt You: When Panic Strikes

Humid air steams against my face, herbal and misty like a proper cup of tea. Mottled sunlight peeks in patches behind rough edged, steel gray clouds rolling higher and higher into the atmosphere. They are heavily burdened with a precipitation they must release, and only gain more power as the air surrounding them rapidly rises.

The cool mountain breeze flying upward to herald the approach of a stronger storm is my cue to shuffle my bare feet off the damp boards on my porch and back inside where I can try to settle in for the storm that was inevitably coming.

Nestled under a cozy blanket, I see the product of negatively charged particles discharge in a furious, blinding blaze. The flash is far hotter than the sun, and the dissonant thunder that follows is the sound emitted from its negative blast.

Crackling from synapse to synapse, the hot lightning moves at a much quicker pace than the thunder, but the thundering thoughts come rolling through right afterwards. The louder they roar, the more fear provoking they are.

The further away the strikes become, the quieter the thunder follows until all is left still and fragrant.

My daughter crawls into my lap, and I hold her tight and whisper “Even though it’s loud, it passes. The thunder can’t hurt you.”

 

Happy Friday, loves!

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Unsteady: Medicine Induced Akathisia

I’ve been on Latuda for nearly a month now. Starting at 20mg, I’ve worked my way up to 80mg once daily.

It’s a difficult medicine to take in my opinion. I can’t take it with dinner because it makes me too tired too early, so I have to take it later with a snack.

In order for it to work properly, you have to ingest 350 calories with it. I don’t really snack after dinner, so this has been difficult for me. It also makes me very nauseous, so that only adds to my displeasure of eating.

After upping my dosage to 80mg, I started to experience some symptoms that made me feel very unsteady. After eating my hearty snack, it would only take minutes before I felt like my nerves became electric.

All I wanted to do was wrap up in a blanket and watch New Girl or The Office before retiring to bed, but feeling as though I was covered in live wires made that impossible. I would have to shift my body back and forth because the restlessness was too uncomfortable.

I felt like my insides were knocked loose and were being pitifully fenced in by my skin.

This made sleep impossible, so I would have to take one or two Trazodone to just knock me out. I needed that relief, because this also played heavily on my anxiety and induced two panic attacks where my husband had to heavily blanket me with his body to keep me from hyperventilating.

Finally, I told my psyche practitioner about it, and she said that I needed to lower my dosage immediately because I was experiencing a side effect called akathisia. It’s not really a serious side effect most of the time, it’s just terribly uncomfortable.

Fortunately it’s subsided since I’ve lowered my dosage of Latuda. I just added Lithium to the mix, so stay tuned to see how that works.

Until next time friends,

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Reaction: Developing Stevens Johnson Syndrome with Lamictal

After receiving a diagnosis of Bipolar 2 disorder in February, I’ve had to completely switch up my medications. I’ve been on varying anti-depressants for a few years as my main course of treatment for my former diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. These medications do not typically work for people with Bipolar Disorder. A general course of treatment includes mood stabilizers, and the first one I was assigned was Lamictal.

With Lamictal, you have to start at a small dosage and gradually work your way up because there is a very rare chance you can develop a seriously condition known as Stevens Johnson Syndrome which is basically an allergic reaction to the medication.

I didn’t have any issues with this – at first.

I came down with a late spring cold, that I was certain turned into an ear infection because I began experiencing terrible vertigo. I went in to get an antibiotic, but no infection was found. I was given Prednisone for an inner ear inflammation, and sent home none the wiser. PSA: DO NOT TAKE STEROIDS IF YOU’RE BIPOLAR.

I had a  h o r r i f y i n g series of mental breakdowns and panic attacks because of the Prednisone. OH and in addition to my terrible experience with Prednisone, I also weaned off my long time NSRI, Effexor. This caused me to go through a period of withdrawals that someone compared to what a person addicted to a hard recreational drug would experience.

On top of all of that. I unknowingly increased my dosage of Lamictal by 150mg a day. I thought I had 100mg pills in my latest prescription bottle, but alas, they were 150mg. So instead of taking 300mg a day like I was supposed to, I was giving myself 450mg. I didn’t realize it until my husband got my meds one day and brought it to my attention. This heightened my withdrawal symptoms, and caused my vertigo, flu-like, malaise cocktail of symptoms.

I immediately dropped back down to 300mg after this discovery, BUT one day, without thinking, I served myself 450mg by accident.

This caused the worst allergic reaction I’ve ever had. I watched as my thighs and right arm became dotted with purple spots called a petechial rash. Every part of my body itched like I was covered with fire ants. My face, lips, and tongue constantly tingled. I was so dizzy that I could barely walk straight. My right eye became watery, swollen, and very red. My left eye wasn’t much better. My throat was scratchy and sore. I had blisters on the back of my right hand.

I felt awful.

I spent about 3 days like this before I remembered that Lamictal can cause symptoms like this. I contacted my practitioner who diagnosed me with Stevens Johnson Syndrome and advised me to stop taking Lamictal immediately and to load up on Benadryl. She said that normally she would prescribe a steroid for a reaction like this, but since I had such a scary reaction to one, I would just have to rely on antihistamines. If those didn’t work, then I would have to batten down the hatches and take another steroid.

Thankfully, Benadryl helped tremendously. I had to increase my dosage of Latuda since coming off of Lamictal which has since caused ANOTHER reaction that I will talk about tomorrow.

Looking back at what I’ve been through not only since the first of the year, but just over the last month and a half moves me to complete gratefulness because I couldn’t have pulled through this as well as I have without help from God. I’m still in a daily struggle to just move forward, but He gives what I need as I need it.

Have you had bad reactions to any medications you’ve been on?

You Are Challenged: Do the 30 Post Truth Challenge

Discovering and revealing truths about yourself is a liberating experience. That’s why I created this 30 Post Truth Challenge. To complete that challenge, you simply have to create 30 posts, exploring different aspects about yourself. You don’t have to deal with mental illness to do this, and you don’t have to publicly share your posts. This is an exercise for you. You’ll get to know yourself better, and you’ll become a healthier person because of it.

Rules:

Let me know that you’re going to participate.

Create 30 posts using whatever media you want to. You can start a blog, you can do 30 tweets, 30 Instagram photos with captions, 30 entries in a journal that held tight by a lock; you can email me (SplendorInEmbers@gmail.com), FB message me (Splendor in Embers). You cam share with the world, or just keep it between you and God. You can take as long as you want to – 30 days, 30 weeks; it’s all up to you.

Let me know when you complete it so I can send you you’re own digital badge of completion!

30 POST AWARD

You have been challenged, friends!

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VERSE OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2017

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At the first of every month, I’m going to begin posting a verse of the month. For June, I’ve chosen Isaiah 60:1.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

June ushers in the second half of the year. The first half of my year has been shadowed with a dark cloud brought on by  a new mental health diagnosis, and the rocky path that comes with changing medications. I’ve found myself in places that were pitch black with hopelessness and despair.

In the previous chapter, Isaiah 59, there is a thick darkness that is described. Darkness is for slumber, worry, and fear. The light is for awakening, and when it comes upon us, we must respond by rising up.

The illuminating glory that comes from the Lord is what washes over you because He has caused His face to shine upon you for both your redemption and for others to see the salvation He has brought to you.

June is my month for rising up, and I believe it is for many of you as well. When the darkness creeps up on you, remind yourself that “your light has come,” and that light will always overcome the darkness.

Happy June, friends!

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Withdrawal: An Unexpected Drug Addiction

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I’ve been radio silent for several days because I’ve felt like hell, and I’ve been catching up on some Zzz’s and spending a little more time with my family.

I want to say that I know nothing about recreational drugs. I’ve went to precisely two parties in college where there were a few people standing outside smoking weed, and those few people didn’t include me. I didn’t even get drunk at any of the college parties that I went to except for the one time I became pretty tipsy after taking a big shot of peppermint schnapps, which I immediately regretted, not because of any convictions but because it set my esophagus on f i r e.

I only know that you can snort cocaine because of the term “booger sugar” (my husband is giggling like a 7th grader as he reads this). I once had a conversation with a friend about some of her friends who got slipped some sort of drug that was laced with something, and I said something to the effect of “Maybe it was laced with LCD.” I quickly remembered (5 minutes later) that it was LSD not LCD.

After stating all of that, you can guess that I’ve never done recreational drugs or even smoked a cigarette (I detest smoking).

However, when it comes to prescription drugs, I can rattle off things about Xanax, Valium, Ativan, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, hypnotics, and so on. I’m privy to this knowledge because I’ve taken several medications from all of this classes at some point of another.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was on a medication for several months before it stopped working, and I dropped into a dramatic depressive state. Well, in that last month, I was weaned off of that medication. I did it over the course of two weeks.

This med is called Effexor, and my psyche professional wanted me to come off of it (I was at the max dosage) because it was causing me not to sleep and not to even miss it. Of course, sleep deprivation always catches up to me, and the depression sneaks up from behind me and pulls me under.

After weaning off of the Effexor, I started having horrible physical reactions. My neck stiffened, I had unbearable headaches, nausea that made me throw up, and insane vertigo.

This is when I went to the doctor thinking I had a bad ear infection. I didn’t and was diagnosed with an inner ear inflammation due to allergies. Predisone was prescribed which sent me into a wild manic state followed by a quick and furious drop. It was truly the worst mood shift I’ve EVER had.

The vertigo persisted as did all of the other physical symptoms. My anxiety also shot through the roof because of this. Another doctors visit ended with a referral for an MRI. I didn’t go in for that because I didn’t want to spend the money.

My husband called my psyche practitioner because he was worried about me. She told him that it sounded like withdrawals from the Effexor. She sent in a prescription for the lowest dosage of it to reintroduce into my system.

I also realized that I had been taking 150mg more of one of my mood stabilizers that I was supposed to which also contributed to the horrific side effects.

After sorting out these issues, I’m starting to physically feel better and mentally blunted. My moods were highly unstable, but now they are way more even.

After dealing with all of these withdrawal symptoms, I have an even deeper compassion for those who go through DTs from stronger drugs. What I went through was minimal compared to what they must grow through, yet I felt like I was literally going to die some nights.

The one thing that I’ve been clinging to through the many downs that I’ve experienced over the last few weeks is the verse Psalm 56:3:

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” 

Repeating this over and over in my mind or aloud has slowed my heart rate, slowed the racing thoughts, and stopped the throbbing in my temples.

I one day further in my healing process.

Until next time, friends!

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Hold On, Baby : When Tomorrow Might Be A Better Day


With tears gathering on my face, I snuck out of my house and into my car. Driving down my lightless street, I couldn’t move fast enough.

I made it to Waffle House because it was the only thing open. I dried my face and kept my head down in hopes no one would see my splotchy face. 

I sat down as my sweet waitress came to serve me.

Hash browns sounded good.

As I waited for them, I pulled out a sketch book and started my D/L list. (Die/Live)

I quickly filled up the D list with reasons I shouldn’t live while I struggled to find anything to write on my L list.

With my hash browns in front of me, I stirred, stirred, stirred them only coming to attention when my waitress asked if everything was good. 

I ate a little and wrote a little.

I looked up when my waitress said: “I hope you don’t mind, but you are absolutely gorgeous.” 

For someone who not only looked like a punching bag but also felt like one, that hit me deeply.

While I had been sitting there, a middle aged man had parked his nice Lexus and came in. He was neatly dressed in a crisp polo and jeans.

As I was starting to wrap up, he came over, grabbed my check, and said: “Will you let me buy your meal?” 

I barely squeaked out “Thank You” as I swallowed a sob. 

I found a few dollars to leave on the table, said my double thank-you’s, and let the tears continue their path down my cheeks.

I’ve often said that I’m glad I didn’t act on my suicidal urges because I always pull through and have better days.

Sometimes it takes God using complete strangers to extend grace and kindness that you in no way deserve just so you can know that you’ve been seen, you’re not alone, and you are meant to live.

Even though my thoughts were dark, a little light went terribly far.

Hold on, baby. There will be a better tomorrow.