In keeping with the December theme, I figured I'd go with a rhyming title Time for another update! Since my last update, my recovery from depression was going rather well. I wasn't depressed anymore, feeling better and less bleak, although I still didn't really feel like myself yet. And because life is full of little surprises, a month ago I experienced a brief psychotic break out of the blue. It was frightening, because I was very much aware that something was wrong with me, and I wanted it to stop but didn't know how to make it stop. I ended up asking my boyfriend to watch over me, then taking a few sleeping pills (in a safe dosage) and knocking myself out for half a day. Lucky for me, the hallucinations and dissociation mostly disappeared within 24 hours, but the aftermath has been interesting.
The first few days after the event I was feeling incredibly suspicious of everyone around me, with my anxiety skyrocketing. Everything anyone said was automatically interpreted in the most negative way possible. I kept feeling attacked, chased, and had a feeling as if everyone was talking behind my back and scheming to do me wrong. The tiresome part was that I was also aware that these things were most likely not true. I spent all day trying to correct my own thoughts and redacting my reactions to other people. This was exhausting, to say the least. It was exhausting for my boyfriend as well, because he wanted to keep watch over me to make sure I didn't do any weird and possibly dangerous things. But after 48 hours of staying up and watching me, I managed to convince him to go to sleep.
I decided to keep working my full time job, to keep myself distracted, to take some of the weight off of my boyfriend's shoulders, and to keep my schedule as normal as possible. My reasoning was that I didn't have to quit working while I was suicidally depressed, so I didn't see the need for a break after a touch of psychosis. What I didn't know is how tired my brain was from the information overload that is psychosis. I would go to work, see a patient, then almost fall asleep over lunch. But I kept going, because I felt like I really needed to keep busy.
In the meantime I was referred to a psychiatrist (finally) who confirmed that it did indeed sound like a psychotic break and that it is quite likely I have bipolar II disorder. This didn't surprise me, as I had previously (repeatedly) asked to be assessed for bipolar, only to be shut down. Anyway, I was started on an extra antipsychotic to make sure the barrage of information both from the outside and within would be blunted and I'd get some peace. It did, although I felt sluggish (again) and started getting incredibly strong urges to binge eat (again). The psychiatrist was surprised to hear I was working a full time job and ordered me to cut down on my hours. Which I did. I noticed that even though I cut back my hours at work and slept 10 hours a night, I became increasingly tired at work. At one point I was so tired after working for a measly two hours, I burst into tears at my desk. At that point I called my psychiatrist, who advised me to call in sick for the rest of december.
I've been home for two weeks now. The paranoia is gone, and I am very slowly beginning to feel less tired. As a nasty side effect I've also gained 4 kgs from the Zyprexa-induced binge eating. I've been advised to take it easy at home and not do too much, but I am bored out of my skull from taking it easy. And the recovery is so slow. It's been over a month since my psychotic break and I am still so easily overstimulated by my surroundings. My home is my safe place, but I would really like to be able to get out and meet friends and family without having to flee back to my lair the moment it gets crowded. I told my shrink how I am struggling with my recovery this time around and he told me to expect it to take months, rather than weeks. I was a little taken aback, but very much appreciated the honesty.
So now I'm at home, trying to take it easy, but at the same time thinking of ways to cheat my "taking it easy-schedule". I've been contemplating learning a new coding language, learning to play a new musical instrument, or finally taking a few creative writing classes. It's annoying because my brain craves stimulation while simultaneously being very prone to overstimulation at the moment. I can be reading a magazine (books are too much at the moment) and if my boyfriend walks in and asks me a question I'll experience something like a brain-freeze. It's not a complete shutdown, but I forget what I'm reading, forget what he asked, become very agitated and sort of hang in limbo for a while until I can continue. This also happens if he talks to me while we're cycling somewhere. I just can't deal with simultaneous sensory input. I feel like I'm walking a tightrope at all times, which is, well, tricky, since I don't have the best sense of balance. I do feel like I'll be getting better, but I am impatient for that to happen.
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