Wednesday, July 25, 2012

And now....

.....back to your regularly scheduled, hectic, drama-filled existence that will continue with or without you, whether you like it or not.  You know, life?

I've been missing our "Little Talks" lately.  And yes, there's been a lot going on.  And I am at the point where I wish things would slow down a bit, even out some, so that I can catch up, get a grip so I can hold on tightly and never let go again.

There's been a lot of stress that I've been dealing with over the last few weeks, and it's been so much, that it's caused an outbreak of shingles to appear on my body.  Well, it was a massive amount of stress and an unrelenting upper respiratory infection that led to the case of the "adult chickenpox" to rear its ugly head.  In certain circles, namely my mother, I brought it all on myself.  In part, I agree.  But I have to look at the bigger picture, the things that I *can't* control.  For example, other people...

I can't control their heinous and unfettered actions of hatred against me.  All I can do is react, report, prepare, and make sure I lock all the doors, windows, keep an eye over my shoulder, and carry protection of some type (legal, of course) with me at all times.

So, when your body decides it wants to just completely rebel against you, you better do what your doctor tells you to do & take the medicines they tell you to take.

I'm not sure which pissed me off more, the fact that I got shingles at 37, or the fact that I needed to stay home for a few days in order for the symptoms to abate a bit.  And whooooooooo-boy! Are the symptoms the worst!  I admit, my case of the shingles was MILD in comparison to other people, and other cases I've researched.  I was lucky.  Damn lucky.  My outbreak was isolated on the upper portion of my torso on my right side, and it was spreading to the side of my body when I hustled down to the ER.  It was pretty drastic too.  Friday night, I go to bed around 11PM with a fever of 101.8, my body itches a bit, I hunker down & get some sleep only to wake up at 7AM the next morning with these blisters on my tummy where it was itching the previous evening.  And they hurt!!!  The only way I could find to describe the pain was that it felt like someone scrubbed my skin raw with a steel wool pad, or those copper coils some people use to scrub their pots & pans......the slightest touch of clothing, a hand, even someone breathing on it made it ache.

I don't wish the shingles on anyone.  Well....maybe a few anyone.

I was surprised to learn that in some severe cases, anti-depressants are used to help with clearing up the shingles.  And I was told in the ER that the fact that I was already on anti-depressants would probably help speed along my recovery.  And they were right.  Tonight, I'm sitting at the old dining room table my family shared while my brother and I were growing up, as it is now in *my* living room/dining room.  Apparently it was just taking up space in my dad's work shed, and rather than throw it out, he wanted me to take it away & use it somehow. There really isn't any practical way for me to place a dining room set in this apartment given the layout, but here it is working for now.

But the last few weeks of stress, and worry over everything finally caught up with me.  And the Universe, fate, more to the point, my body gave me the proverbial smack down that I needed to stop & take stock of what the hell was going on.

There's a ton of information and studies out there on the topic of people with bipolar getting shingles before they're 50 (after age 50 is that which is the most common age people experience their case of the herpes zoster virus), and I've only linked a couple of them for you.  You might be able to find much more than I did.  And if you do, please send me a link, ok?  But two of the major causes of getting shingles are stress and a weakened immune system.  I had both, so, guess what?

I've learned that with being bi-polar, it is so very important to watch your physical health and pay attention to the stressors in your life as they are all intertwined, and directly affect one another.  Talk to your doctors (yes, all of them....the primary car doc, the psychiatrist, and any other specialists you may need/have) and get regular check ups. And forgive the cliche, but the life you save will be your own.

As for me....a few days of complete rest, anti-virals, anti-biotics, and yes, even anti-depressants evened me out, got the blisters and the pain from the shingles to go away.  I'm going to a new type of group therapy called CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), which will take up a very good portion of the rest of the year.  It's a 120 minute course once a week on Wednesday mornings, which is a good thing since I do a good portion of my work in the afternoons/evenings.  I missed the first class last week due to court, but this week's class had me crying like a little girl for a number of reasons........and I haven't cried in a while.  It was cathartic.  And I feel so much better having done it.

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