Through this wild and crazy adventure with Bipolar I have learned one thing: I am a bum. I’m lazy, I procrastinate, I have no focus, energy, or determination.
When a hypo-manic or manic episode takes control though, I am incredibly creative, full of energy and life, and I can really get things done. There is no procrastination, and everything makes sense. I am sharp-witted, smart and so incredible! I love myself so much during a manic episode.
Of course I do, that’s what Mania does!
During a casual conversation with my Aunt, she asked me if I had been screened for ADHD. Nope. Never. She then reminded me that I have many family members who have been diagnosed, and posed the question: what if my scattered mind is in fact dealing with some mild form of ADHD?
Hmm. Time to research.
Watching my son, brother, father and nephew all coping with ADHD, I should have seen the signs and symptoms. I should have been well aware of all ADHD is, but I wasn’t. My son grew out of his by the time he was a teenager, and I have always been a bit forgetful.
During my most recent visit with my doctor, I asked her if it would be possible for me to have some mild ADHD along with the Bipolar, or is all this trouble with memory, focus, concentration, and drive related to Bipolar? She did a screening and to our surprise, she feels strongly I may have a mild form of inattentive ADHD.
Now for the problem with this: treating ADHD requires a stimulant, which can send me into the vicious throws of a Manic episode. Oh no. Now what?
She struggled slightly withhow to proceed. If I do not have ADHD, we would be facing an instant Manic episode. If it is ADHD, I may find some relief from this scattered and lazy mind of mine. So she decided to start me on a very small 2.5 mg dose of Ritalin, along with a mood stabilizer, which I have had some pretty severe reactions to. My problem with this whole idea was the fear that the Latuda would counter any good that the Ritalin might provide. So I hung on to my Latuda and dived in head first.
I took 2.5 mg and noticed nothing. Nada. Zilch. Three days later, still nothing. I talked to my doctor and she increased me to 5 mg. Here we go. Still no Latuda on board, but I have it ready in case something crazy starts happening.
So here is my experience with my new-found energy, focus, and drive after starting 5mg of Ritalin:
Day 1: I have my coffee and my 5 mg of Ritalin. It is very short acting so I am not terribly concerned with any effects it may have. Go for cup of coffee number two. I quickly figured out this is not the best combination as I began to get a little jittery and shaky. It doesn’t take long before I started feeling focused. Driven. It was exciting.
My husband and I went into my toddler’s room to start sorting and packing his things. I was surprised that I could sit and go through stuff with a level head. I didn’t spin in circles, get confused, or give up. I did not put it off and wait. I actually got it done! I was also able to get up and clean the living room too.
About four hours later I crashed, got super-hyper and couldn’t stop moving around. Oh no, was this Mania? Man, I hoped not. It felt great! I got a good night’s sleep and I was actually able to get up and out of bed at 8AM. It was great. But…was it Mania?
Day 2: Only one cup of coffee. I did not like the jitters yesterday. I was already feeling sluggish and had very little focus. I took the dose of Ritalin and within 30 minutes or so I started to feel the focus again. I could think clearly and I didn’t feel like a bum. I was attentive to my kids’ needs, I could keep up, and I didn’t need a nap. Yay!
Oh, wait, I still needed to be watching for Mania. I did not have any symptoms of Mania except energy and focus. My mind was clear; it wasn’t racing, I did not feel any euphoria or increased sexual need. I was irritable. This is – incredible.
My brother reminded me that the great feeling is temporary and that I needed to be sure not to try to abuse the medication for an even greater high. I am not looking for a high here, I am looking for clarity, which I have found. Yay!
Day 3: Things were good. They were great! I could get stuff done; I could still stay focused. No manic symptoms at all. We went shopping for a fridge and I was able to really look at everything and felt like I could make a good, informed decision without giving up and walking out. I was so happy about all this. I saw my doctor and told her about mid-day crashing I experienced with feeling hyper and agitated. She told me to take a second dose of this very short acting Ritalin while we tried to determine how I was being affected.
I rook dose #2 and the calm, collected, gathered mindset continues. Wow. Whodda thunkit?
I am hitting day #4 and I am very excited for my new medicine. But I’m also so weary of a Manic episode being on a stimulant that I feel like I am steadily on guard. I have my meds ready should I start climbing up higher than I am right now. I am so freaked out because of how good I feel. The only time I have ever felt “good” was during a hypo-manic episode.
I am praying hard that this is just what “normal” feels like. I’ve never really known normal, I’ve only known high and low. Is this normal? Am I freaking out over nothing? What is happening?
It’s been a week since I first started the really low dose of Ritalin. I have no other symptoms of Mania besides an incredible amount of focus and drive.
I will continue to keep track ofmy journey with Ritalin, and keep updating. I hope this does not throw me into a Hypo-manic episode. I can totally get used to this!
Busy mom photo available from Shutterstock