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Category Archives: Medication

Poverty & Mental Illness

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I can speak only to what I know of the subjects of poverty and mental illness. I’m sure studies have been done regarding the link between the two, but this isn’t about those studies. Nor do I mean to imply that people who are middle class or wealthy cannot have mental illnesses. It happens, I know, across all demographics. However, I do question the link between chronic, persistent mental illness and not having enough money to meet basic human needs. I, at least, have a job and insurance so that I can see a doctor and afford my medications, and somehow, with the help of food pantries, help from family and payday loans (a very poor solution, that one, but sometimes necessary when you run out of gas money or toilet paper before payday). My anxiety level has been so high almost constantly for the past few years. If you’ve never struggled to provide for your family, you may not understand. If you’ve never had a panic attack, you may not understand. Right now, even with the medication for anxiety and for depression (because, though I have bipolar disorder, I’m depressed much more often than I am manic), I’m not myself and not really sure who that self is anymore. I wanted better for my children than this. I grew up poor. You’d think I’d be used to it, right? Even as a child, I worried about money, rarely asked for anything because I didn’t want my parents to feel bad that they couldn’t afford something that wasn’t a necessity. I cry myself to sleep. I am trying so hard to be a good person, a good wife and mother and a good provider. I am trying so hard to trust that God’s providence covers us too, but at this moment, having to choose gas for the car so I can go to and from work over buying groceries, I feel like a failure. On top of the anxiety and depression, there is the poverty. Poverty is full of fear for me. It is also full of shame because as much stigma surrounds it as surrounds mental illnesses. I am just a person. I like to laugh, I love my family and if I could just be happy, I would. I often wonder, if I wasn’t always feeling like I’m walking on a thin, almost invisible line between having enough and not having enough, would I still have panic attacks? Would I still cry myself to sleep and be so easily irritated that I feel as though I’d be better off alone? I can’t answer those questions. I can only repeat that I am just a person, like anyone else.

189/365+ proof of God’s love

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I failed in many ways as a human today. It’s no excuse, but the antidepressant I take had become ineffective, so my doctor increased my dose; one side effect happens to be anxiety, with which I already live and for which I’m taking two medications. In my case, anxiety translates into two things primarily: paranoia or extreme irritability. Today irritability was the main course. I reacted, or rather overreacted, very poorly to everything today. Okay, not everything. As long as I forced myself to focus on my reaction, I was okay. Unfortunately, I didn’t focus very well today. In others’ patience with my awfulness and in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day and I can choose to be more mindful and in control of my reactions, I feel the reassurance of God’s love.



Sometimes when I’m lying in my bath,
Water as hot as I can make it
Coloring pale skin red,
I fixate on the shower head
To turn off my thoughts –
They chase me everywhere
Often bigger than my control of them,
They’ve never taken to leashes or cages
Though there are a few medications that quieten them.
Some days I wish I were simpler,
Possessed of smaller, shallower musings…
I repeat to myself it is what it is
And fix my gaze on the shiny shower head,
Avoiding the inward looking
As well as window dreaming.

Avoidance by Karen Ballou, 2012©

My Twisty Path


I think I recall a few times like this as a child, a few days like the one I had today.  It left me, quite honestly, feeling completely mad.  I realize for the past couple of weeks, that I’ve had this awful climbing-up-the-walls energy, I’ve been prickly and snippy.  It’s hard to parent at times like these.  It took an observation from af friend to tell me what’s going on, and of course I don’t see my psychiatrist for another three and a half weeks.  I’m experiencing mania, not t he kind that lets me clean for hours on end with boundless energy, but the evil twin, which bounces my leg when I’m forced to sit still, which makes my eyes feel buggy because all the thoughts racing through my head are threatening to pop out in all directions – what a mess!  I’m hyper-critical, overly sensitive, easily pushed to panic mode and I keep forgetting to breathe.  So, this tells me that my antidepressant continues to work, but I think my friend who pointed out that this is mania is right, it’s time to look into a mood stabilizer.

This doesn’t feel as awful as being depressed.  However, I’m not a nice person when I’m in this state.  My words tumble out without my permission and I say hurtful things, I can’t focus on my children because my thoughts wander and wander.  This is fine at work, where multi-tasking keeps my leaping mind busy, but at home I just can’t stop to pay close attention to the little ones calling, “Mommy, Mommy,” and I feel a terrible guilt, because what sort of effect will my inattention have on them in the long run?

Then, there are the thoughts themselves.  They don’t make sense.  If I were to speak aloud these thoughts as they occur to me, everyone would think I was off my rocker.  For one thing, the words I’m thinking are a jumbled mess, but a rhyming jumbled mess, which is even worse.

I even only had two cups of coffee today to try and decrease the bounciness, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

So to my friends and family, I apologize now.  To those of you whose blogs I follow, I am reading, I’m just too much of a mess to articulate responses.

Pills in my hand & down the hatch

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My hand is empty now.  In about seven hours, it will fill with nine pills to swallow, two for anxiety, three for diabetes, one for depression, one for pain (don’t worry, just ibuprofen), one for high blood pressure and one for something the details of which I’m not getting into here and now, as I’m awaiting test results.

The pills concerning me now are those for depression & anxiety.  I’m not sure whether they are working or not.  I thought they were, but since I’ve been physically sick and in pain the past few days, I begin to feel paranoid.  Mostly this concerns my job and, quite honestly, I’ve often felt paranoid about my  job over the last five years or so.  It’s rather uncomfortable.  It causes me to lose sleep.  Faking a smile all day is a means to an end, because I must provide for my family, but how well am I really providing if all I’ve left to give of myself at the end of the day is frustration and paranoia? 

So, again, maybe it’s all me, maybe the meds aren’t working.  Or maybe I’ve reason to fear.  Or maybe a combination of both.  I only know it’s exhausting and I don’t like myself much when I feel this way.

At any rate, I’ll talk to my doctor, perhaps try something else and perhaps it will allow me to just go to work and do the job I know I do well without the sense of dread that has been filling me for so long.