27 September 2009
My Head in a Vise
So far, since being off my meds, my sleep pattern hasn’t been too off-kilter. The only time it appears that they are affected is when I am experiencing my short-acting manic phases, which, I guess, is a good thing. The “good” part in that the manic phases are short. I thought I was back to rapid cycling, but this time I am not too sure. My manic phases approximate a 36-hour interval between anything else—anything else being the rapid descent into hell, where it seems I am now having the wonderful fortune of spending greater periods. Given my options, despite the personal drawbacks, I’d much rather be manic.
The kicker, sleep-wise, has been the depressed phase. Ordinarily, while it doesn’t amount to anything close to refreshing, at least I do spend some time asleep. However, in the last three weeks I’ve noticed a new wrinkle. Every morning, far earlier than when my alarm normally goes off, I suddenly awake with a bone-crunching headache. The pain is searing and tears spring to my eyes. At this point, despite however exhausted I still may be (whether I’ve had three or even five hours of sleep), I simply cannot roll over and turn off the light. I’ve tried popping a few Exedrine (the one OTC that usually works), but, of late, it hasn’t made much of a dent. Due to some relatively recent oral surgery, I have a few Vicodin laying around, so I tried a couple of those. Mixed bag of results: the headache eventually wears away; however, I am left feeling rather drowsy which is often compounded by the fact that the quality of sleep I did experience wasn’t great. That won’t do during the work week. Can’t log onto the network if I can’t first log into myself!
I don’t normally experience headaches, so I am rather concerned at the turn of events. I also don’t appreciate the nauseous feeling I end up with after taking any meds so early in the morning on an empty stomach. I even tried eating a few Phenergan with either the Execdrine or the Vicodin, but that just compounds the ensuing drowsiness—hard to look sharp as a tack at work if you can’t talk without a thick tongue!
I don’t think it’s anything organic. My last major BP crisis in 2005 resulting from a failed suicide attempt that landed me in a psych ward for quite some time resulting in some rather uncommon after effects. This admission bought me a new diagnosis to add to the BP: borderline personality disorder. Oh goodie, yet another tag. Didn’t know so much about it at the time, but after doing some research, it sure did explain why I was so heavy into the self-mutilation for a while, even at the later years of my life. One new symptom I began experiencing (not that I hadn’t already—it’s just now that I know what to call it!) was states of dissociation. One particular incident brought EMTs to my house, ones I evidently called myself according to the taped recording of my 911 call.
I don’t remember most of what happened (hence the dissociation). I have fleeting memories of being on the floor in my living room trying to reach for the phone. That’s it. The next thing I can remember is getting into a taxi after being discharged from the ER the next day (according to 911, I called around 0200 in a panicked state mumbling something about passing out after bouncing my head off my heavy glass coffee table). When I got home, the house was a wreck. There were pieces of pizza all over the floor between my kitchen, dining room and living room. When I got into the kitchen, after following the trail of pepperoni and mushrooms on the floor, I found what appeared to be the dough from a frozen pizza tightly bound into a mangled ball. Whatever happened had been extreme…I just can’t remember any of it.
The ER did a CT scan that proved no injury. All of the medical notes from the intake nurse to the doctor’s comments proved inconclusive. The ironic part is that they all referenced having a normal conversation with me in that I did not appear too distraught and was able to answer questions. Mind blowing to me since 1) I can’t remember any of it, and 2) what the hell threw me into such a frenzied state in the first place that resulted in attacking a frozen pizza…a frenzied state that must have lasted a long enough time for the frozen dough to have become malleable enough to shape into a crumpled ball while traipsing through three large rooms of my house resulting in passing out and hitting my head on my coffee table. The level to which I attacked this pizza is mind blowing enough in and of itself.
The next day (or maybe it was two days later), armed with my medical records from my ER visit, I went to see my doctor. It was then that I began experiencing some dizzying headaches. My cause for concern was that the CT was clear, so why the lingering headaches? I was referred to a neurologist is fairly short order and over the next two weeks MRIs and EEGs also proved inconclusive (however, during this time period I evidently had a single-car accident which I cannot remember, although the front end of my Civic will tell you otherwise, so something was still going on).
To make a long story short, nothing organic was ever proven. After consulting with my p-doc, I decided to transfer from my current mode of therapy, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), to DBT (dialectical…a story in and of itself). I learned more of the impact of borderline personality disorder while now learning to handle these fugue states of dissociation—each event always accompanied by extreme panic disorder according to the wreckage evidenced in my house at a later time along with a headache and, of course, the absolute memory loss. The one precursor to the dissociation was the headache, and then easily handled by the Exedrine. After months of DBT, I never got anywhere with learning the cause-and-effect of the dissociative periods (the memory blackouts were distraughtful enough), much less anything BPD- or BP-related, so I quit. The dissociative states, after a while, disappeared (no, the memory loss is still permanent) and the lingering headaches eventually did as well.
OK, so now it’s 2009. No more dissociation (at least no evidence of it!). But, now, I’m being jolted awake with these piercing headaches. The quality of my sleep has lessened; I always awake exhausted even if I am lucky enough to have six hours of it. My almost-regular popping of Exedrine while I bolt down my morning hot tea helps me orient somewhat to my workday, but now I am beginning to question the headaches, their causation. I thought about going back to see my regular doc, but I’m not sure where that will get me. While I’ve never presented myself with drug-seeking behaviour, I certainly wouldn’t want him to think I’m just hitting him up for more scripts of painkillers. No point in pulling in another round of neurologists—that’s already proven useless and far too expensive. There are no other underlying processes going on to further define this malady. It’s just damned inconvenient and, truthfully, quite bothersome. So, now I face my bleak spiraled-down states of depression with a constant state of exhaustion. It’s truly as if I haven’t had any sleep whatsoever. Yes, my depressive states are always associated with exhaustion, but the state of exhaustion has worsened suddenly with the onset of the headaches.
This morning I have only enough energy to drink my hot tea, sit here, and write. In a few hours, I will go through the motions of getting ready to go to church, but even this morning I question why I will go. My mind won’t be where it ought; it hasn’t been for a couple of weeks. Yet I still feel compelled to go. I can’t escape the fact that God has blessed me quite graciously when I was laid off earlier this year. Regardless of what anyone wants to think, I know the circumstances that took place that resulted in my new job—to me, personally, is nothing short of miraculous, say whatever you will. But, my focus is shifting. My attention is drawn to the BP that is consuming me along with all of the questions suddenly surrounding me of who I really am. The queer question. The Christian question. Right now, I just don’t give a damn. My head hurts, I feel like I am going to throw up, and I just want to crawl back into bed and shut out the world. If only all these racing thoughts in my head would just shut the fuck up.©2009