The Eagle Has Landed

by VivaLasViejas Guide

The anatomy of a manic episode by a nurse who lives with bipolar disorder in its many inglorious manifestations. Why, oh why do I enjoy this madness so much.....and why in the name of all that is reasonable do I think I can keep it leashed by sheer force of will?

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    The Eagle Has Landed

    The eagle has indeed landed.....and landed softly, instead of crashing and burning as she's done so many times in the past. Thank God.

    This morning I felt completely normal when I woke up to get ready for work (even though I maintain that 5 AM shouldn't even be on the clock). I marveled at this new sensation of well-being, and have continued to enjoy it all day. This is what it must feel like to NOT be bipolar.....to wake up each morning and not have to run a self-check for symptoms, to go to work and stop by the store for a gallon of milk without picking up a new car on the way home. (Well, I've never done that exactly, but I did drop a wad of cash in Wally World last summer that could have sheltered, clothed, and fed four of their employees for a week.)

    Now, for most people that statement would prompt a response along the lines of "Yeah, so what? I feel normal too, just like I do every day." But for me, it's nothing shy of a miracle.......especially after soaring as high as I did this time. This was far from the worst manic episode I've ever had, but I still let it get pretty out-of-hand before I called my psychiatrist, who promptly bumped up my medication. And once again, there are lessons to be learned; this time, I did better at getting help before things escalated to the point of no return, but I could have, and indeed should have called sooner.

    Why, I ask myself after each go-round, do I think my will is stronger than the disease? Have I ever been able to contain the crazy by simply wishing it away? And why, oh why do I still enjoy my hypomanias so much when I know they will almost always progress to full-blown mania, turn on me, and bite me in the butt?

    Already, much of the past two weeks has faded into history and there are large blank spots in my memory, which are entirely too much like the alcoholic blackouts I used to experience. I'm fortunate that I was able to recall most of my two-day orientation to the long-term-care hall at work, because I was able to carry it off on my own today without forgetting TOO much of what I learned. However, I barely remember the events that led to my deciding to call my doctor, and significant chunks of time are missing from the days following the med change as well.

    What's more, I was just reading over some of the blog entries that I made during the episode, and I don't even recall writing them for the most part. THAT is how jacked-up I get sometimes; by the time I get to admitting that I might---just might---have a little hypomania going, I've crossed the border into manic territory. I think this last time I coined the term "pre-hypomania" to describe what I was feeling, but looking back I realize that I was already hypomanic then......and things only got worse after that.

    As I told a close friend recently, mania is in many ways as intoxicating (literally)---and as attractive---as alcohol. It's also every bit as dangerous for me, because when I'm in that state I do not CARE if I annoy people, spend money I don't have, upset my family, or make a scene in a restaurant. (Which I did. On my son's birthday.) Oh, maybe once in awhile a little common sense may slip through and make me stop short, but it's only a minute or two before I go back to doing whatever it is I feel like doing. And the worst part of it is that I don't get scared about ANY of this until I've come out the other side of the episode.

    So this post is more than just another story about taking a walk on the wild side; it's documentation of what happens when I let a 'high' get away from me, and a cautionary tale to which I can refer the next time I'm tempted to let the sweet madness wash over me.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jul 14, '13
    marydc, canoehead, shannon81, and 13 others like this.
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  4. About VivaLasViejas

    VivaLasViejas joined Sep '02 - from 'The Great Northwest'. Age: 55 VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. Posts: 24,581 Likes: 33,352; Learn more about VivaLasViejas by visiting their allnursesPage


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    12 Comments so far...

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    Well put as usual, Viva. It is uncany how you shed such light on what can typically be "hush-hush".

    Any number of undiagnosed/underdiagnosed people are alcoholics and addicts. Heck, with a high like mania wanting to last for the longest time possible, some diagnosed people are alcoholics and addicts.

    You are an amazingly insightful person. Thanks for being able to put it down on paper.
    MassED, loriangel14, Esme12, and 4 others like this.
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    I have always contended that one of the major reasons many bipolars are non compliant with medications is the allure of the hypomanic state. I compare it to having the bestest of bestest days for days on end or that giddiness when first falling in love combined with the thrills from riding a rollercoaster. A seductive place to be indeed.

    So congrats on getting a handle on things much sooner this time and wishes for continuing success in both the work situation and in self monitoring. Please know you AN family loves you too.

    {HUGS}
    canoehead, Marshall1, jadelpn, and 3 others like this.
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    Glad you are doing better now....and that you allow us a peek into a world that we know little of. Your strength is amazing!
    VivaLasViejas and nrsang97 like this.
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    Quote from txredheadnurse
    I have always contended that one of the major reasons many bipolars are non compliant with medications is the allure of the hypomanic state. I compare it to having the bestest of bestest days for days on end or that giddiness when first falling in love combined with the thrills from riding a rollercoaster. A seductive place to be indeed.

    So congrats on getting a handle on things much sooner this time and wishes for continuing success in both the work situation and in self monitoring. Please know you AN family loves you too.

    {HUGS}
    I love the way you put that---the "bestest of bestest days for days on end". Who doesn't love that?

    I am actually quite strict with myself on taking my meds, and if I weren't, my husband would be. He has to remind me sometimes, and there's a sticky note on my vanity table that cues me because I have missed the occasional dose. My system is very sensitive, and I pay for it every time I forget to take my meds.....I missed one set of nighttime pills a couple of weeks ago, and that was basically all it took to launch me into the stratosphere.

    The good news is, I'm really, really close to the right combination.....bumping up the Geodon kicked this episode's tail.
    marydc, Esme12, mds1, and 2 others like this.
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    Viva,

    I missed the part where you got a new job. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so very happy for you that 1) you recognize the need for help and are pursuing it and 2) it sounds like you're so very close to discovering the "cocktail" that works for you.

    You are an inspiration in so many ways and I thank you for sharing your stories. I really hope you are keeping copies of all of these memoirs somewhere. Some day they will truly make a fascinating book!
    Last edit by 1feistymama on Jul 15, '13 : Reason: typo
    MassED and VivaLasViejas like this.
  10. 4
    Quote from 1feistymama
    Viva,

    I missed the part where you got a new job. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so very happy for you that 1) you recognize the need for help and are pursuing it and 2) it sounds like you're so very close to discovering the "cocktail" that works for you.

    You are an inspiration in so many ways and I thank you for sharing your stories. I really hope you are keeping copies of all of these memoirs somewhere. Some day they will truly make a fascinating book!
    Yes, I happened to be visiting the old nursing home where I worked several years ago---my sister is currently a SNF patient there---and suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a job opening with my name on it. Funny how these things happen......Right now I'm the utility player, and fill in where they need me; but they're sending me on a three-day MDS 3.0 training starting tomorrow and paying for me to stay in a hotel, feeding me, and paying mileage as well as my regular wages.

    Knowing LTC as I do, I have a feeling I'm in line for promotion, and soon---two of our care managers are nearing retirement age, and there's talk of another one who's not doing her job very well. I've also been told I'm part of a general staff "upgrade", and I know LTC companies don't go to this much trouble and expense to train someone to plug numbers into a computer when somebody goes on vacation.

    In the meantime, I'm actually enjoying doing bedside care again, even though it's hard on my almost-55-year-old body and the workload is pretty heavy. I loved working here before, and left three years ago only because I had no seniority and my hours were cut due to chronic low census at the time. That does not appear to be a problem this time around, even though I have what's called the "oop: detail" being a part-time fill-in. It's OK, I'm working again, and I don't even have to explain my illness to anyone because they know me well and are willing to accommodate me. A win-win situation all around.
    BrandonLPN, VickyRN, 1feistymama, and 1 other like this.
  11. 1
    You may have read it, but Oliver Sacks' book, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," has a pretty good story in it about a guy who can't bear to give up his manic episodes. I never really understood how that would feel until I read that story.

    I enjoy your writing so much. Thanks for the many great posts you have given us
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  12. 0
    Actually, I've heard of the book but thought it was about dementia. Hmmm!
  13. 1
    Multiple short stories/case studies. Very interesting book.
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Actually, I've heard of the book but thought it was about dementia. Hmmm!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.


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