VERSE OF THE MONTH: October 2017

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I chose this verse for a couple of different reasons. One being its popularity. Folks deeply devoted or barely acquainted with Christ can more than likely prattle this off as one of the verses they have memorized. I also wanted to highlight it because there is power in it, and it has brought me much encouragement and strength these last few weeks.

I will not lie, last month was hellacious for me. Finding the right combination of medications for me has proved to be beyond taxing, and I’ve clung tightly to the Word of God during this time. I’ve constantly come back to Philippians 4 as a whole, prayed it – declared it over myself because I have had days where I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I would stand still in my bedroom, large chunks of times would pass. When my husband would come in, I would just weep because I couldn’t get ready for the day. I was consumed by fear and brought low by the unbalanced chemicals in my brain.

Through prayer and a medication change, I’m doing much better. This month has a bright start, but I want to remember that no matter the challenge, Christ will give me strength.

I pray that you will find strength in the challenges that face you this month.

Happy October!

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Moving Thoughts as Heavy as Pianos

Have you ever moved a piano?

I do every morning.

My wallet was stolen a few months ago by a couple of creepy thugs, and I quickly became paranoid that they would take the information found on my license and come to our house and break in. Because of this new found paranoia, our Wurlitzer spinet gets pushed in front of our front door every night (Do not talk to me about fire hazards), and I assume the right position and push it back to its rightful place in the morning on my way out for work.

When I first started moving this large and dreadfully heavy instrument, I struggled to get it to budge. However, with time, I have learned where and how to plant my feet, which position my hips need to be in to assist with the push, and just how much weight I need to throw forward in order to get it to move.

This is my every morning, but it won’t always be this way. My paranoia will fade. I will be satisfied with the alarms we have on the door as well as the windows. However, until then, I must push.

This is where I am at with my mental health. In my mind, I have made no progress these last several months. My depression is OK, but my anxiety is heavy and hard to maneuver. I have been crying a lot, and I feel like I’m unsteady most of the day. I find it difficult to complete small tasks, but I keep saying to myself:

“Just push through.”

This thought of encouragement doesn’t make the task that I am facing any smaller or lighter, but it readjusts my posture for how I am going to face it.

While I feel I’ve made no progress because I still feel pretty awful, I have to remind myself that seven years ago, I refused to go to a doctor for help, I was reluctant to see a counselor, the idea of medication was offensive, I was having panic attacks almost daily, and I was painfully suicidal.

Now, I have more of a vocabulary to use to describe my symptoms, I see a psyche practitioner monthly, I’ve started counseling, I make a lot of my own phone calls instead of waiting for my husband to do them, I can often walk and talk myself out of a panic attack, I know when my depression is heading to a dark and bad place and unashamedly cry out for help.

I’ve learned a better posture for pushing against the heaviness of Bipolar 2 Disorder, and even though the heaviness of it hasn’t changed, I can push through it a little easier. It’s just taken practice. I won’t always have to repeat this small mantra in my head, but it is a tool that I’ll carry for when the need arises.

Just. Push. Through.

VERSE OF THE MONTH: JULY 2017

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Brand new guitar strings fall out of tune more quickly than it takes to get them to play the right notes. At least this is true of the type of strings I prefer to play with. They require quite a bit of stretching and adjusting before they are able to hold their assigned note. However, after they are worked with thoroughly, they can produce the sweetest melodies.

Similar to these guitar strings, we must be pulled on, stretched, tested, and worked on until the tune of our heart is pleasing to the Lord.

My prayer for this month is that the Lord will tune me in a way that Jesus can be seen through me so that whatever good things He has planned for me can come to pass.

Happy July!

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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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