bye bye toothless terror

I took this photo, along with some others, a couple of weeks ago and at first Grace was pretty reluctant about it. When they came off the camera we looked at them together and I asked her if I could put one of the photos on my blog because mum thinks starting to get your new front teeth is pretty special. She thought for a bit and chose this one. There's been a fair bit of attention on these teeth. She's had a two tooth gap for quite a while - even her beloved teacher referred to her as a toothless terror - and has been missing one of the teeth since she lost it in a backyard scooter accident when she was three.
I've had this awful worry at times that the broken tooth might not grow back, perhaps I misheard something the dentist at the Children's said. Anyway the teeth are nearly full sized now and they look big and very white. Perhaps a little big for her mouth but I'm assuming that she will grow into them. And hopefully not need braces but I'm not that optimistic about that.

It's funny but just as her big teeth are coming in, Grace seems to have reached a new level of maturity. She is really enjoying helping me prepare Friday night dinner (which often involves meat she chooses at the supermarket with her dad) and the the other night she chopped up all the vegetables using the rather sharp chef's knife I bought for her to use. I really enjoy it too, she is a genuine help and we chat the whole time. Grace is also learning to wear jeans rather than just skirts and tights and can do her own hair in a number of cute styles. Her bed is full of books and she loves to read before going to sleep. She still loves a big cuddle but also likes to discuss things in more detail.  It's really rather a lovely stage, I know I say that about all the stages but it is.

feel so, so different

Trigger warning- a bit of reflection on those horrid suicidal thoughts.
Yesterday kicked off with a book parade. Lots of kids wearing put together at home costumes (as requested by the school), teachers in fabulous costume and the Principal dressed as captain underpants. I remembered how last year I had felt really sad going past another school on the bus as all the kids arrived in their book week costumes. So I put it on the agenda for school council but then a book character parade happened quickly before we even got to the meeting. It's grown from there and it was such sweet fun. I am really pleased about that. We also opened the new library and that's another thing I'm glad we have back at the school. It's humble but it can evolve.
- After the school shenanigans I went into town to pick my other new pair of boots. They are still a little tight so am wearing with thick socks and leather stretch. And admiring how beautiful they are. They had better fit because they are my perfect short boot. Also been thinking about going to Queensland. Having a week off and have convinced work to let me take a week of flex as well - accrued as I pointed out by staying back and seeing customers after others had left. I have totally earned that week. But Queensland would be expensive, even more expensive the two pairs of  boots, new clothes and books. I could afford to go to Queensland (without putting it on the credit card) for a few days and hang out with my sister and the cousins at a hotel with a pool but I have been saving and I dislike seeing that number go down - even if it is temporary. Now I am not depressed, suddenly all I want to do is spend money, it seems. Last weekend mum thought I was a little high but I don't think I am. I certainly don't want that to be the case as it feels rather good. Sometimes I feel like I come across differently, that I am somehow not quite me. A bit more assertive, a bit more jolly, a bit more gung ho, some strange expressions. But I don't really feel that way. No, not at all.
I feel as though a big porous boulder of sadness and surrounding stones of anxiety have been removed from inside my body. The suicidal thoughts are gone. Including the usual random background thoughts. All gone. I wonder why that is, because those very low level thoughts have been with me as background for as long as I can remember. They don't often get to the scary level and I have only ever felt like acting on those kinds of thoughts once before, in my thirties, when I had a what I now see as a manic low. After work I would hole up in my bedroom to smoke bongs while listening to Nirvana. Wearing a well washed flanny shirt and ugg boots. At work I baked cakes as tears streamed down my face. My family intervened and I got some really good help. But now I am curious as to why I felt like that both these times, why do I have these thoughts at all? Can I banish them for ever? I feel like I have to understand this as when I look back at that awful week, it horrifies me. Now I feel well again, I have plans for the house and for a business. I feel like I can do things and I am surrounded by good people I love and who love me. So much to live for.

So yeah, I'll take this little white pill with the terrible reputation. At least until I feel like I don't need it any more. And then if it turns out I really did need it then I will take it again. I asked my doctor why she prescribed this rather than a new anti psychotic and she said that she had seen it work in similar circumstances on the ward and she thought it might work for me. I had one of those moments when I thought about her experience and learning and exposure to lots of other crazy people and realise, yes that's why I pay you the big bucks. That's why it's worth it. Of course I might well be fighting with her again once the drug honeymoon wears off but she's helped me get out of that hole, more or less intact. I'm thankful for that.
It seems like a few things are coming together for me right now. After I watched this video, well I've watched it several times now and the first time it made me cry, I went and bought Susan Cain's book Quiet. I don't think I've ever pretended that I'm not an introvert, even when I have wished I was otherwise, but I don't think I've ever been able to place a value on introversion. Indeed I've always felt there was something wrong with me and perhaps because our culture places a high value on extrovert qualities. I've often wished I was different, less wrong, more extroverted. Reading this book is helping me articulate why I need to leave my job eventually, why it is bad for me. It's ironic that the aspect of my work that I am best at and enjoy the most - interviewing - and which adds the most value to the organisation, is not something I can do all day, day after day in a big noisy open plan office. To stay in that job would mean that I could probably only ever work part time and even then it's unlikely to be good for my well being. I've been trying to think about whether the job could be redesigned to suit me better but somehow I don't think that is a possibility. Never mind, I have plans and if they don't work out then I'll think of something else.

Thank you for all your kind wishes on my last post. It was really lovely to feel heard and read.

let's just stop and see what happens

This post comes with a TMI warning - also triggers for suicidal thoughts. 
Until this week, when I started to feel much, much better, every couple of days I have looked through this blog of mine for clues. Because I've always written about my mental health issues one way or another and it serves a a useful personal history for me in this way. I've been asking myself, have I ever felt this bad before? Has this year really been this shite? Why now? What am I doing so wrong? And at a certain point last week I would have said, Janet you are doing everything so very wrong, nothing you can do will ever be right, and so on. Thoughts of ending it all came tumbling through my mind, often at breakneck speed. At first I could recognise these thoughts for the utter evil they were and remind myself of the great loves in my life and my responsibilities but as the week progressed, there were these other thoughts that it would be like sinking into a big soft bed with clean sheets followed by the most blissful nothing ever. Luckily on the worst day, G was around and I asked him not to leave me alone and he didn't. That made me feel a little better but it was still pretty horrible and although things have been a bit tenuous, what with work, school politics, winter and various life decisions not moving along as fast as I would like, my mood went from a bit blah into a hideous crazy downwards spiral within a week and a bit. It was so bad that my doctor and psychiatrist spoke about me on the phone to each other and at one point my doctor was asking me whether I felt like I needed to be in hospital. That shocked me. Still, even though it would have been public hospital, the idea had some appeal. I decided that I would be OK at home but it did really shock me that he asked.

A month or so ago, at the direction of my psychiatrist, I stopped taking one of my medications and as it wasn't a big dose, there wasn't much of a plan about it. Let's just stop and see what happens, she said. After a few days I stopped sleeping properly and then the sleep became worse and after a few nights of much missed sleep I started to get that feeling you do after you've been out partying all night and still go to work the next day. Kind of stretched taught, greasy and a bit trippy. I took a day off work and went to see my doctor. He prescribed some valium which seemed to do the trick. The next week at work wasn't great - there was a day when I turned on my computer in the morning and burst into tears - but other than that it was bearable enough.

Over the next weekend though, my mind started to go to total crap. At the follow up appointment with my doctor, the one where I blurted out how bad things really were inside my head, I agreed to go and see my psychiatrist. Luckily I was able to get an appointment a day later. It was a pretty intense discussion and she seemed to think I had been a bit angry about the decision to go off the other medication and to be honest I guess I would rather be fat and getting on with my life than crazy and not, so while I understood the reasons for not taking the zyprexa any more, yes, I was a bit pissed off. That said, I would have been happy to go off it and just be on the lithium but that doesn't seem to do the trick for me at the moment. Anyway she also had the theory that I might be one of those people who are sensitive to valium, that it may have been disinhibiting in some way and that this may have caused the rapid downwards spiral. She prescribed me another anti psychotic - one so old school that I had to go to three chemists before I found someone that stocked it. I didn't want to take the medication because in my mind bipolar is fine and all very well as long as I am controlling my symptoms. However when I have symptoms or things go wrong, it is so unpleasant and demeaning that I have a big issue with the diagnosis itself. It didn't help when the fill in team leader at work suggested that despite having a doctor's certificate that I might feel better if I came in and did some work from the carer's room, because that would make (depressed) me feel better. Urgh. Anyway I have stuck with the new medication, even increasing to the maximum recommended by the psychiatrist and despite feeling a bit in la la land (which could well pass in a week or two), I am feeling much, much  better. No horrible thoughts. I've been able to drive, go to work, laugh a bit and contemplate the future with hope again.