Wednesday, July 26, 2006


hi, this was dated july 17 but is also a good representation of how today felt, at least until this evening. and might be seen as an explanation for the lack of recent posts...
moodswings do not make for consistency and regularity in anything, a constant struggle for me.
however, elvis just said the fact that i feed and walk him regularly proves that i manage to be consistent in important areas no matter what the moods are doing!!! he's right, of course.

Monday, July 24, 2006

note from elvis

hi everyone. this is a note from elvis; i'm marlena's shnoodle, in case you forgot...

  • she's been very stressed out and has not had a chance to draw our comic strip so you don't get to see my beautiful body today in some great position, as it is really late and she is too tired to get her ass in gear and do some comic strips. so she enlisted me to let you know she is sorry she has not posted all week. she figured my natural doggie charm and charisma would be better than one of her long prosy rants. woof!

  • her next comic strip will probably tell you something about her stress and depression but for now i'd say imagine a blank frame and then a frame filled with black and those two frames represent what is going on inside her lately. actually in between her annoying moods she has taken me out on good walks and given me lots of attention.

  • she talks out loud to me as of course i understand english. i won't share some of her special terms of endearment as that is quite private and does not pertain to the purpose of the blog anyway except to show that i'm completely attached to her and quite appreciate all the silly baby talk and private conversations she has with me. shnookers. woops, i let one out...
      • shit. i just lost a few sentences i wrote to end this post and i can't find them. oh well, i meant to say that it's time to get her to take me out for the fifth time today. be extra good to your canine family members. remember there's no one else in your life who is always excstatically happy to see you no matter what as soon as you walk in the door...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

july 13: the daily catastrophe

july 13:
the daily catastrophe

page 1:
"hi everyone! she wasn't hypomanic for long... she slept a lot and is now down in the dumps and tired."

"excuse me. got to sniff this mutt's but. sniff sniff. oh so , anyway, marlena's too down to show her face so i'm here to entertain you. i'll say this for her- she always walks me, no matter how crazy she gets..."

page 2:
"time for my nap. she went back to bed after walking and feeding me. for you dogs out there, bipolar owners are great. they often stay home from work."
"by the way, i'm really well hung, in case you can't tell from the drawing..."
"i have to admit, i'm really attached to her. i'm real jealous of THE MAN..."
"sorry, i don't feel like moving. as i was saying, with a bipolar owner, you get a lot of time with them at home and she's too anxious to go away much and leave me so i'm really lucky--vacations freak her out."
"it's great except i don't like seeing her upset."
"it's hard to sleep when she gets really nuts but even then she gives me good walks."

(in fact now, it's 1 am and elvis really wants another walk so i better post this quickly...)marlena's note

a visit to dr. alter

july 12, 2006:
the daily catastrophe:
am i hypomanic now?!
page 1: (i like to wear weird hats indoors at night.)
"uggh. it's after midnight and i can't sleep..."

yesterday at my psychiatrist appoinment with Dr. Alter... he's the glasses and the tie. i can't draw people very well.
"so i thought i might be getting hypomanic. i had all these ideas and inspirations on the subway and..."

page 2: "well you seem a lot less anxious." "what if i'm getting hypomanic"
"you're on the right medication. take the same amount and decrease it when you feel better."

"he spent over half an hour with me" (actually he usually spends 40 minutes with me. he remembers all the important things about me and is super supportive and calming...)
"i always feel better right after i see him"

"then the next day i end up anxious again. i got to get out of my head"

(i thought i'd write out the dialogue as my handwriting may be hard to read...)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

elvis' tips for living with the bipolar female

(and now for all you people struggling to deal with living with your bipolar chick... some words of advice from the expert, elvis)

and now for a quick commercial break... (ie. break from hearing any rants from crazy marlena)
"hi guys! for all you people who've been wondering how do 2 alpha males live with this nutty woman and manage to stay so cool and mellow!??"
words of wisdom for all you people who live with a bipolar female...

"it's very simple really, just remember the letter 'b'!"

introducing "the daily catastrophe"!

july 11, 2006

bipolar notes from underground...introducing marlena's comic strip...
the daily catastrophe:
page 1:
"ok! hi everybody! i'm elvis, the shnoodle, (i spell it without a 'c'!)"
schnauzer face
curly poodle hair
poodle legs

"excuse me while i pee. basically she hasn't figured out how to draw herself and she knows i'm much cuter anyway. here's how she came up with the idea for this:"

page 2:
about a year ago...
"i don't know what to do. i can't do this graphic novel... i suck... i can't draw anyway blah blah blah"

"the guitar is denzel, my arch rival. she can't draw his face so he might as well be a guitar. he's always playing it."

"hoeny, just do a comic strip every day. you could call it "the daily catastrophe", just like your life...

off meds roller coaster ride...

hi again... thanks to the people who've read my first post and given feedback...

so i did not get a chance to fully update this whole process of the past four months of going off meds. to make a long story slightly shorter than it could be, basically the first couple of weeks when i had completely tapered off all three meds, depakote, seroquel and wellbutrin, i was tired and slept a LOT every day. that surprised me as depakote and seroquel actually make you tired and sleep more which is why i was taking them before bed, so i had expected to be more awake and have more energy, but that wasn't what happened.

then after about two weeks, the big "honeymoon" period of being off meds struck. it was, well, like a honeymoon, short lived joy and good stuff happening and then you "get back home" and reality sets in. basically i suddenly started waking up really early naturally, around 6, 6:30 in the morning, which never happens for me. i'm a total night owl and cannot get out of bed early unless i have to, which is why i have a job that starts at 11 in the morning. so suddenly i was up with the sun and full of energy! it was a peek into the world of all you morning early bird people and it felt great. i even went to a few early morning yoga classes. i was suddenly sleeping between 6 and 7 hours a night instead of my usual med induced 9 or more hour stupors. and i felt really grounded, good energy, no mania, no depresssion. people who knew i was off the meds were telling me i seemed great and i was really enjoying the feeling of just being in a body off of drugs. i considered what it would be like to not take meds even after getting pregnant and having baby; maybe, i reasoned, i could stay off the meds and just take seroquel every once in a while if things got hairy or manic, and wellbutrin if they went to the dark shadowy world of depression. basically, i thought i might be able to avoid taking the despised depakote, the mood stabilizer...

so the honeymoon went on for a few weeks, i think it lasted through april even. then there was a shift and the next stage was a lot of quick mood swings that never got too serious, but it was quite a bumpy ride. in one day i'd feel kind of down and tired, then anxious, even had a few hours of slight hypomania that grounded to an anxious or depressed halt. some of the time i just felt pretty normal and continued to wake up between 630 and 8, an absolute miracle for me. but i started sliding in may, every once in a while i couldnt get out of bed til 1030 or even 11 and would call in late to work but manage to get there.

then, the big shift to anxiety, stress, feeling overhwhelmed and down and mixed, every state of mind except for the highs which were not included in the mix, came when elvis (the little dog, he's a shnoodle, that's part schnauzer, part poodle and doubly cute) got sick with digestive issues. when the little guy gets sick, anxiety sets in, it's an instant trigger. over the years of owning elvis i've learned to manage the horrible anxiety that kicks in when he gets sick. it's a physical anxiety mixed with unmanageable worrying anxious thoughts and fears, hard to describe but just awful. the only thing that really helps it is the sight of the doggie feeling better, eating, enjoying his walks, acting like himself again. the good thing was that although he literally could not keep his shit together, i will spare you the details, he was acting his happy self, overjoyed to go outside. when not throwing up or shitting too much, he still had his appetite. to make a long story slightly shorter, in the space of a week i took him to the vet twice. there was the couple of days of anxious waiting to see if he did indeed have a hypothyroid which wouldn't be terrible, or if there was some mystery that needed to be solved by some further yucky procedures. hypothyroid he was and i happily started giving him his little yellow pill twice a day and hoped the shits would get normal. but alas, he stayed sick for more time after that, about a month, and i debated back and forth whether to take him in for an endoscopy. he was acting his happy self but the damn shits continued. sometimes he'd seem better and it would be back again. the good news is that just about a week and a half ago he started getting back to normal and my anxiety about his health subsided...

but meanwhile i was an anxious mess and stressed out, such that everything was multiplying my stress. trying to get pregnant was a major stress, each month being disappointed and having to start over again. nothing wrong with having to have lots of sex, of course, but when you want the baby to start growing so the hormones will set in and stabilize your moods (indeed, that is the good news about this whole process for bipolar chicks, once you get pregnant, the hormones help you out until birth when you can look forward to higher chances of postpartem depression and psychosis)... anyway the stress just mounted up and up and basically the past six weeks have been extreme anxiety, including a few pseudo panic attacks. poor denzel was really having to live with all this, and was very supportive for the most part, though he certainly had his own stress...

anyway to get to the point, on saturday july 1, i really lost it and got so freaked out and anxious that i really felt like i was acting like a different person. everyone who had the misfortune of coming in contact with me that day had to deal with a disociated monster. i must have left my psychiatrist about 6 messages over that weekend. i was so anxious and crazy (but no mania whatsoever, just mixed anxiety, extreme fear and self hatred and depression and feeling depersonalized or like i was somebody else, the bad witch marlena) that i did not remember getting a detailed helpful message from my psychiatrist on saturday. so i took 150 mg of seroquel as i frantically looked up info on the internet about multiple personality and borderline personality and a bunch of other disorders i was convinced i suddenly had in addition to bipolar disorder. i got through that first night by sleeping a lot in the afternoon from the meds. the next day i took more seroquel but started feeling really freaked out...

i'm not sure i want to write about the rest of that day. maybe next post. but you get the idea, the long and short of it is that i'm doing much better now and am still taking seroquel. i was told it would be ok as it was more important that i get stable and not go further into that madness. and then a few days later i found out i wasn't pregnant anyway, which still felt like bad news...

so i guess these notes from underground are not totally off meds as i am still taking the seroquel... i took today off from work as i needed it and i have an appointment with my wonderful psychiatrist. he's been there for me for over ten years, definitely my best experience with a med doctor.

elvis is happy and gaining back weight and i'm feeling pretty stable, so i'm appreciating the good things and the great people around me...

this blog is starting to feel a bit narcissistic and self-involved. i wish there was some way i could hear from other people struggling with bipolar disorder so i could say some things that felt more like i am connecting to people and offering encouragement or something. i didn't want to do a blog in the first place because they seem so egotistical me me me and this whole post feels like that...

any dog owners out there? maybe i should have done a dog blog where the focus was completely on elvis. it would feel less self involved. hello to all mixed breed scruffy doggies out there and their owners!!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

first post of my blog!

hi, ok, so i'm finally doing this. i've been thinking about it ever since i quit therapy almost a year ago. and that was way before i stopped taking my medications.

let me just start by saying, no i am not a crazy bipolar person stopping my meds so i can get good and manic and write the great american novel. my psychiatrist (different person from my former therapist) has been following me all along. i stopped my meds at the beginning of march (the perfect month for a mad tea party, my favorite book ever is alice in wonderland and through the looking glass, technically i guess that is two books.)

ok, so i stopped my meds so i could get pregnant. in case you do not know much about bipolar "disorder", a lot of the meds cause severe birth defects.

ok, so please allow me to introduce myself, now that you have an idea of what is motivating me to create this blog:

my name is marlena rivers. yeah, sounds like a fake name or porn star name, and it is. no i'm not a porn actress, but i had to create a name for this blog. because i'm not OUT at work about the bipolar thing...

so some of this blog is about the dual identity thing. because it is a trip and i feel like a double agent, posing at work as a "normal" person and then out to my family and close friends who have even seen my at my most psychotic moments... so i'm hoping someone out there will read this and identify with the whole double agent tightrope i walk as a "manic depressive" because it's different from certain other mental illnesses or whatever you want to call them. we bipolar people are your next door neighbors, personal trainers, teachers and co-workers whom you think are normal until they take a sick leave from work or disappear every couple of months...

so, anyway, to continue the introduction. my name is marlena rivers and i have struggled with bipolar disorder (i like calling it dis-order, my manic mind enjoys the kind of pun, because my mind is constantly in disorder but has a magic order to me, it's just in disorder as far as other people are concerned.) for about 17 years or so. before that it was a lot of depression in high school. i had my first major manic leading to psychotic episode when i was twenty years old and another one about six or so months after that. those were the two hospitalizations. and since then i've managed to avoid being hospitalized though i've had plenty of extreme episodes. the magic of extra meds, especially seroquel. ok, so i guess you figured out my age, 37. i'm an aquarius.

so some of this blog will be slightly untrue, only things that will protect my identity and i will probably point them out to you, like my fake name and my age. i'm around that age anyway. i won't tell you what my job is for the reason i already mentioned. i'm very paranoid (or maybe that's an extreme word as i have real reasons to need to protect my identity because i don't want anyone knowing at work about this stuff.) and probably the names of the people i write about will be fake too to protect them and my identity. but the stuff about struggles with bipolar disorder will be true. i'm not a pathological liar, in fact i'm a terrible liar...

so i'm also a closet writer. i write mostly in my journals and hardly ever show what i write to anybody, so this blog is a first for me. writing is what keeps me going, i guess it's my passion... but i'm not too secure about it and have never published anything until this blog i guess it's a form of publishing. i mean someone out there whom i don't know might actually be reading this. tell me if you are. i want to know what you think about all this and why the hell you're reading this... please introduce yourself and tell me.

i'll tell you how i got the idea to do this blog. my therapist suggested it when i quit therapy with her. she's an art therapist and she even got me started writing a graphic novel, which is a major miracle because i don't know how to draw, not anything recognizable anyway. she suggested i write in comic book form about my struggles with mania, depression, mixed states, psychosis, anxiety, etc. so i started. it's a work in progress. when i quit therapy she suggested that i try a blog like this; she thought it would be therapeutic and might help me connect to other people going through similar struggles. that was after she suggested a group therapy, but i'd been there, done that, and really wanted a vacation from therapy. and this was way before i thought about going off meds.

so it has taken me a year almost to get up the courage to try this out. i really have no idea who will read this. i guess my readers will be divided between a few people who know me really in real life and then whoever out there happens upon this blog. like you.

i dont know much about blogs or blogging but it seems like a good medium for me since i mostly write journal entries anyway. i confess i struggled with the idea of writing all this in my journal and then posting it in handwriting to make it more like a journal but then i got paranoid someone would recognize my handwriting, so i thought of faking my handwriting and inventing a new handwriting for every entry, but that seemed too exhausting.

so you can see why this is called notes from underground (off meds). actually i should have put that in parentheses...

ok so, hi, i'm marlena rivers, 37, closet writer and closet manic depressive. here are some other facts about me that i'm telling you the truth about: i was born in new york city, manhattan. i'm an aquarius. i'm the youngest of three, older brother then older sister then me, the baby. i'm a total baby and i'm trying to get pregnant. i live near the world trade center (i can't call it ground zero, i've lived down here a long time, way before sept. 11 2001.) with my boyfriend denzel (that's a fake name, of course, but he is not fake), my life partner and future father of our non existent at the moment baby and with my very real little dog elvis (that's not his name but he is a real live little dog and he is male and his birthday is in two weeks and his very real age will be fourteen)...

bye for now. i'll be back soon.