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Mack's Journal

27th February, 2003. 4:16 pm. Another day another centime

Now I am at work getting ready to go home.

Do you know what? Today I can do work that is about planning and anticipating. I don't want to say I'm "fixed", because there is still some way to go, but I am better. I'm still not much good for anything under pressure, but if given the room I can think things out and plan and stuff. That is so great! There is just one problem. I don't want to. You see, there have been so many things that I haven't been doing that there is a backlog! And the things I want to do are not the ones that need doing immediately at work. I want to take time off and drive down to Nice for a holiday for crying out loud, not write reports and implement an evaluation process for project quality. Yuck ;{

Feelings are OK today. Less good than yesterday. I think all this Iraq war stuff is getting to me. I feel a bit fragile around the edges. But internally, the system is running OK and emotions are at least positive. I am still fighting anxiety but I don't freak out as much. In other words, I am anxious, but somehow handling it a bit better. But I would like to get it under control and stop feeling so anxious. Is there an anti-anxiety medication we can add to the mix? I am tired of this cold stone sitting in my stomach.

Current mood: anxious.
Current music: I love rock n roll.

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27th February, 2003. 10:52 am.

This morning I had a dread attack. I was just dreading to do anything. Forced myself through it and
now I feel better, not so negative and fragile. But still having some dissociative symptoms -- feel a bit dizzy and remote. The GOOD thing is that this is a lot less of a symptom than I have been having. Just feel a bit lost.

Its amazing how quickly my symptoms can change.

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26th February, 2003. 6:49 pm.

WELCOME! To anyone who wants to read these entries. I'm not sure they make the most interesting reading but I am not known as a terribly creative writer. I just limp along as best I can.

Well have about made it to the end of the workingday (and my journal entries)

Feelings: Tired and wrung out -- I have focussed and been more productive today than for many days previous, I think going this hard has emptied me out. I feel a mental buzzing and a lack of calm centre -- my thoughts flit here and there relentlessly, even if I want them to stop. So I do things like my Journal to focus and slow down my thoughts. But this makes me more tired and my thoughts get less controlled. What a circle! Hopefully I'll get to bed and get enough sleep. If not then I know this will lead to mania.

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26th February, 2003. 1:20 pm. Calm day

Started this morning with the blonde singer singing rap music in my head. Loudly. I could tell it wasn't real but it sounded close to being real. That said, the lyrics for once were positive and have affected my whole day so far, I've been able to focus on work and get things done.

Despite the audio distractions remembered to start on my new meds. Took my son to his skiing pick-up point, and my daughter down to her language school then ran back in to work. Have spent only about 1 hour "zoned out" so far this morning, so I am doing good!

Current mood: mellow.
Current music: Hey Mickey with adjusted lyrics.

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25th February, 2003. 10:45 pm. Another switch

Started the day a bit late as had a morning appointment with the doctor and it didn't make sense to go in to work for 5 minutes only to leave. But the doctor was (unusually) late. Very late. One and a half hours late. So I finally get in and she seems concerned about my hallucinations. Not that we've talked much about them, but because she suddenly wants to change my RX from Olanzapine to Risperidone.

It will be good to try something new for the hallucinations. Certainly the low dosage of Olanz. wasn't stopping them. I spent all evening feeling like my nose had swollen into a pigs nose. I had a really good sense of smell. Or riding in the bus, I noticed I could "taste" the sunshine when in shined on me. It wasn't spicy like I'd have expected. It was butter and sage flavored. It was my secret to have and hold, I bet not many other people can taste the sun and live to tell about it.

Did not talk much to the family last night. Did not have anything on my remembered list of things to talk about. I think spouse was a bit unhappy about that.

Current mood: blank.
Current music: Brahms.

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24th February, 2003. 3:22 pm. AAAAArghhhhhhh (hits self on head with blunt object)

I wonder if I made myself clear in the previous email. This morning, I am having, perhaps, some of the effects I described.

I am finding it very hard to concentrate on any one thing.

When I look at a memo (here at work they run to 20 pages) the words blur and turn into other things, like gothic print. If I focus hard to read them, they don't make sense. Words turn into other words. Things are misspelled, but on second glance, are spelled correctly. If I really, really try to read them I can, but progress is very slow, with me having to read things 2-5 times.

Also, I am struggling to read and understand, so have little cognitive room left for prioritizing, reacting, judging, evaluating, ... all of which are the important part of my job.

I have had this problem ever since I can remember, but it is worse this spring. Maybe I'm just noticing for the first time, maybe it's worse.

So as I described, this is a little bit like what happens in the shopping mall, with sensory distortions, but different. Question: how to cope and keep everything together?

Current mood: apathetic.
Current music: Dark side of the moon / Pink Floyd.

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24th February, 2003. 3:18 pm. First post

Here it goes, my first post.

Well I am at work now. I am dreading work because over the last six weeks I have got so far behind that I don't want to face up to it. Also I have some meetings and will have to see how I survive the fear. I just want to hide under my blanket.

Following is a general description about something that happens sometimes. It's not happening right now. But the problem is that when it does happen, my brain isn't working well and I don't ask for help. What can we do to prevent its happening?

Sometimes I can't handle noise and crowds well. I prefer to go to the
same stores, well prepared with a list of what to get, because I get overwhelmed trying to figure out where things are at stores, sometimes even ones I know well. It's like I get sensory overload where my mind stops processing. Lights get brighter and darker or sometimes, strobe-like. Sounds get louder and sometimes they don't track with what I'm seeing. I feel overwhelmed and slightly disoriented. If it gets wors, then sometimes I get a headache; People's mouths move and I hear the sound of their voice, but I can't make out what they're saying -it's all garbled; Everything sounds like its in a tunnel. On rare occasions it gets worse and everything begins to melt and then I start panicking and can't focus on anything. Then if I drove comes the fun part of trying drive home in this state, which I know is completely unsafe, but I am so anxious to get home as quickly as possible, I don't think clearly enough to stop and call for help. People who have seen me in this state say that I also slur my words when I talk. I wonder if it's some kind of seizure, or an atypical migraine (without pain). I'm pretty sure it's not a panic attack. This is why I don't like crowds.

The zyprexa does help this some. I don't get so disoriented that I lose my shopping cart. But the basic effects still exist and it is very disconcerting.

I get this also at work, to varying degrees. Often on days I can't work I suffer some mild form of this. On other days its not so mild -- and I lose track of what people are saying when they are talking to me. On particularly confusing days I might bump my car on the way home.

I think these effects are triggered by something but I don't know what. I know that if I am in a very safe, supportive, low stress environment I suffer less from this.

Reading about brain anatomy has helped me to understand things
better. I know my problem has something to do with the thalamus, which is the master control for sensory processing in the brain. Also, a brain needs a miminum number of neurotransmitters to function properly and I think we bipolars have such fluctuations that we don't always have enough on hand to process things correctly and then that triggers the amygdala,which is what controls the emotions. I don't think of bipolar as a emotional disorder, I see it is a sensory disorder crossing over into emotions. Is this correct?

What is the best way to deal with this at the office?

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