Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Month: July 2014

An Open Letter to Dr. Carlson

Dr. Carlson,

You should be impressed, I remember your name. If you aren’t, I won’t be upset, though. I don’t expect you to remember me. The last time you saw me was back in 2007, if I remember correctly. That’s a pretty long time for a doctor who has only about fifteen minutes to devote to her patients, no matter how frequently they have to visit her, and, as I recall, I saw you once every two or three months.

I’ll be honest. You aren’t the only reason why I left Valley Mental Health’s care. First, I was denied a therapist, and I did—and do—still need therapy. Just not for the reasons I needed it to begin with. Then there was a mess with my applications for funded medications, because you’d prescribed me a “new” medication for Schizophrenia which the company who manufactured it still had sole rights to manufacture, which meant they were charging at least $100 more than I could afford to pay for it. Yeah. That was a tough one.

But the kicker?

That was when I got the reevaluation by the Veterans Administration Hospital. I’m sure you knew of it before I departed Valley Mental Health’s care. I distinctly recall one of my last visits with you, when I told you the evaluating doctor had pegged me as having Bipolar Disorder. Remember how you refused to consider he might be correct? Then you gave me a scrip refill for my Schizophrenia medication. Which I didn’t even bother going to the nurse’s office to fill out the paperwork to have it funded for me.

You know why?

Well, I’ll tell you now. I had an appointment for the next week with a VA psych doc. Also a therapist there. Yeah, they evaluated me and got me into all the care I needed within a month. I forget the medication regimen Dr. Agricola put me on, but it worked better than what you’d given me for Schizophrenia.

I know you think you were just doing your job, but isn’t part of that job to listen to patients and make adjustments based on what they tell you? I think it is. It’s how the psych docs I’ve had at the VA have dealt with me. When I complained to Dr. Vukin, my current psych doc at the VA, about the fact I was sleeping 14 hours a day, getting up for about an hour or two, then taking a 6-7 hour “nap,” he changed my medication regimen. Yes, I know we did this, you and I, Dr. Carlson, but you always seemed more interested in pushing me onto certain medications rather than trying to find what would work.

Of course, nothing would work. Why? They were all Schizophrenia medications, and I needed those for Bipolar Disorder. I was not functioning as well as I seemed to be, Dr. Carlson. I was not stable. You know how I know? I still had temper tantrums, like the one I had on the way to the VA for my evaluation. I got off the commuter train and crossed the street (luckily going in the right direction), and, thinking I was lost, struck the light pole there with my cane. That’s the clearest tantrum I recall having, and it’s not the only sign. I was still making unwise decisions with my sexual activity. I had an incredibly difficult time keeping hold of what little money I was able to make. It was a good thing I had a part-time job doing surveys on the phone, because I tended to babble a lot. And there were times I’d be up for two or three days straight, as well as periods where I stayed in bed for days due to depressive swings. On the medication you prescribed to me.

I’m certain I told you and my therapist about these bipolar episodes. This tells me you never really listened to me. You went through the motions of giving me care. You had in your head I was Schizophrenic, and that diagnosis was written in stone for you. I pity your other patients and can’t imagine they’ve gotten any better care.

I know why you clung to the diagnosis of Schizophrenia so hard. It’s because I have auditory hallucinations, and hallucinations of all kinds are a hallmark of Schizophrenia. I’ll tell you this, though: It is entirely possible to have hallucinations, particularly those of the auditory kind, with Bipolar Disorder. Yes, it is. I’ve looked it up, asked both Dr. Agricola and Dr. Vukin and my therapists I’ve had at the VA, and even asked the evaluating doctor about it. They all backed up the research I’ve done since. Auditory hallucinations can be a symptom of the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder, which all my other symptoms point to.

The good news out of all this: I am now stable and have been for at least the past two years. I probably still can’t hold down a regular job very well, but I’m not spending days at a time huddled in bed, having unprotected sex, or experiencing auditory hallucinations consistently. I’m able to make a budget for each month’s income and stick to it so I have all the money I need for bills. And now I actually let people get words in edgewise instead of babbling right over them. My tantrums are few and far between, and I’m able to talk myself out of them because the therapy I’ve gotten has enabled me to recognize when I’m caught up in reacting too strongly to situations and events. I won’t lie and say I don’t have the mood swings typical of Bipolar Disorder, because I do. I will say that I’m able to weather them with greater calm and patience with myself than I was when I was misdiagnosed as Schizophrenic.

I thank you for doing what you thought was your best in your care for me, Dr. Carlson. It enabled me to get by until I received the proper diagnosis. However, “getting by” is not my goal in life. I want to be fully functional, and I was not when I was misdiagnosed and on the wrong medication. I’m still not quite there, but I’m much more functional than I ever was on any of the Schizophrenia medications you tried on me, and that is extremely important to me.

Signed,

A.

Naming Things

When I first started writing, I didn’t worry about my more fantastical names. I just made them up, put them in notebooks, and picked ones I wanted to use if I couldn’t come up with any decent ones off the top of my head. Occasionally, I’d come across some bit of naming advice, and, especially after I got online, I came across advice on how to create a Naming Language.

A Naming Language is basically a constructed language used primarily for naming people and, if your story has the need to, things and concepts. This is supposed to give names and words a kind of uniformity—so it looks like they all come from the same language for a given spot of worldbuilding. Writers who want to differentiate between their characters a little bit more, particularly if those characters come from different locales or nations, may employ something like this more than once for a particular world. Those who only want to have an easier time coming up with names or words they themselves have created, may use only one or two particular versions of a Naming Language.

For me, Naming Languages don’t appear as distinct as I like them to, and they’re too restrictive. Instead, I develop a sort of alphabet of the letters and combinations of them I wish a particular conlang (constructed language) to have, even if I’m using it only to name characters. This, for me offers much more flexibility and the freedom to develop interesting names which appear consistent throughout a particular locale or nation or group of people. Often, even if I don’t have an actual alphabet worked out, I have some ideas for it in mind and will fit names to my early concepts until I finally work out the full alphabet.

I get to do interesting things with my alphabets. For instance, when I developed the Édalain alphabet, I decided I’d use É/é in the names to give it its own “look.” Working out an alphabet for Édalain enabled me to decide on particular rules for the language and to develop backgrounds on how new languages are integrated into it, so when I have characters like Esqué and Fenelon, whose names do not follow the spelling conventions and alphabets I’ve developed or have in mind for particular countries and/or the Empire, I’m able to reason out why this is . . . and it gives me notes on their characterization. For instance, with Esqué, I realized he used the Édalain alphabet to spell his Gervési name as a sort of way to honor his roots while welcoming the “new” way of life introduced just prior to his birth when his country was invited to join the Empire.

Oncology Checkup

This entry is part 36 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Last Friday, I had an Oncology checkup. This is part of routine post-cancer care for breast cancer. I believe I mentioned here previously my Oncologist called to briefly discuss the possibility of putting me on Tamoxifen instead. Well, this visit was sort of a follow-up on that call.

Like usual, I first saw an intern who was working with my doc. She and I went over the past few months regarding my experiences with the medication regimen I’d been originally placed on, and I mentioned to her my hands had begun intermittently itching. She checked my heart and listened to my lungs, ensured I didn’t have edema in the legs, and went to give her report to my Oncologist. I remember her first name was Amy (’cause it’s very familiar to me), but not her last name.

When she returned, she had my Oncologist, Dr. Colonna with her. My lungs and heart were checked again, then Dr. Colonna sat and we got into the main topic of my visit: what medications would be best for my post-cancer care.

We once again went over the benefits and side effects of Tamoxifen and my Anastrazole-Leuprolide regimen. My main concern with the Tamoxifen is the possible stroke side effect. I know thousands of women have been on Tamoxifen for years without such a side effect, but it’s a main worry for me. I’m concerned about the osteoporosis which the Anastrazole-Leuprolide regimen can cause, but not as much as I am about the stroke issue.

Dr. Colonna wasn’t strongly determined I should switch to the Tamoxifen, and she listened to my concerns about the side effects issues, then suggested I remain on my current regimen for about five years and possibly stop all hormone suppressants. I disliked that idea, mainly because I know that at 45, my body will still be producing hormones; my mother’s menopause didn’t end until she was in her fifties, and I told Dr. Colonna I was expecting my natural menopause to last that long—so I thought I should be on some sort of hormone suppressant therapy until at least my fifties.

She agreed with this, and we eventually worked out I’d remain on the Anastrazole-Leuprolide therapy for five years, then I’d switch to Tamoxifen. I’m to go in annually for DEXA scans of my bones to ensure I’m not losing too much density in them. I suspect if I do, I’ll be switched to the Tamoxifen sooner, but Dr. Colonna said my initial scan showed I had excellent bone density, so she felt confident I could remain on my current regimen for at least five years.

I told her about the itching in my hands, how it’s intermittent, and she explained it may have something to do with the early menopause my body is going through. So, it’s hormones and nothing can be done about it. LOL It’s not that bothersome, so I was just glad to have an answer for why it started up.

I also told Dr. Colonna I’m trans. I probably should have long ago, but I didn’t want Mom present to try to downplay it. It is important for all my caregivers to know, even if I’m not going to be able to do much—if anything—toward transitioning anytime soon.

While I was up at the VA (actually, during the waiting period for my medication refills, including the Leuprolide injection which needs to be administered by a nurse), I made an appointment with my primary care doc to have a regular checkup. My last one was a female exam, and I need to tell Dr. Milne (pron. mil-nee) I’m trans and what my projected plans are. Now that I’m finished with the intensive cancer care, I can better focus on my trans issues, and I’m looking forward to doing so.

“Write What You Know”

This writing “rule” is a real bitch. It’s the one which gave me more worries and stress than anything else.

I came across this bit of writing advice in the early 90’s, before getting a home computer. It was in a writing-advice book, and it wasn’t qualified. What I mean is, the writer of the book didn’t explain what it could mean—because there are different interpretations which can be made from this statement—they only put in “write what you know.”

And I thought, “I write fantasy and science fiction. I can’t know most of what I put in my books.”

Most of the time, I did my best to ignore this bit of advice, but it always came back. When it did, it invariably interrupted my writing. It brought to me the first real doubt I had in my writing. It was hell.

Over the years, and particularly once I found Forward Motion for Writers, I came across various other interpretations of “Write what you know.” I’ve discovered there are probably as many interpretations of “write what you know” as there are writers, but my favorite interpretation is to write what I know on an emotional level.

This affects my writing. On the stories I really care about, I develop complicated relationships for the characters. I delve into their psyche. Not to say other writers don’t, simply that I do it to a depth I don’t see (or recognize often) in others’ writing. It’s part of the reason why Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage trilogy is still my absolute favorite of all time. In all three of those books, the MC is affected by his circumstances and relationships with other people much more deeply than her other characters seem to be to me.

And I go deeper than that. Nearly all of my characters have some sort of dramatic emotional or psychological upset over the course of their stories. I’m writing what I know in these books, and I know deep, disturbing emotional/psychological turmoil. It’s kind of difficult not to when you’re mentally ill. No matter my determination to remain calm and confident and patient, my mental illness doesn’t permit me that ability. I experience deep despairs over the most shallow things. There are times when the least provocation causes me to fly into a rage. Sometimes I weep for no apparent reason and it takes me days to identify what the trigger was. And, always, always, when I feel something, whether it be positive or negative, I feel it deeply.

I try to put that depth into my characters’ lives and emotions. It’s the best I can do to make the story as good as it can possibly be. To me, if my characters aren’t deeply emotionally affected by the events in their lives, I haven’t written the story well enough.

So my characters aren’t all going to be emotionally stable. Kaj in Fairy-Touched isn’t. Not all my characters are going to come from happy home lives. Gildas, in my July Novel Writing Month WIP this year, Where There’s Always Sunlight doesn’t. And even my most even-keeled character, Doéna from Stirrings, has a breakdown due to the stress of his situation.

“Write what you know” still hits me the wrong way sometimes, but by keeping in mind the knowledge I have which fascinates me when I put it into stories, I’m able to avoid the depression this advice gives me.

Making Connections

In order to receive health care up at the Veterans Administration Hospital here in my city, I had to apply to have medical conditions service connected. What this basically means is that I have to somehow prove the condition I’m claiming was caused in some way or occurred while I was in active service in the Navy.

Currently, I have a 10% service connection on each of my knees, which totals out to 20%. This is the result of a recent reevaluation. Previously, I had 0%, which was required for me to receive the care I have. The increase in percentage is due to knee pain which is pretty much constant at a low grade and the fact I wake up with pain and stiffness in my knees most mornings.

My mental health condition is not service connected, though I’m fairly certain it was actually triggered by my time in service. While I was in my advanced training school, I sought mental health assistance, and now I’m trying to hunt down any possible records of it so I can perhaps get my bipolar disorder service connected.

The problem with this is that I no longer recall the name of my mental health care provider on base. He was a civilian employee working in a support capacity in a mostly-civilian office on the base. This explanation apparently did little to assist the Ombudsman of the base in identifying where my mental health care provider worked at the time. Also, it’s over ten years since I received care, though I can give an approximate time span during which I did so.

The base’s Ombudsman was able to give me two numbers to call for this purpose. One was for southern region Tricare, who had no record of my care. Apparently, the therapist I saw never had to contact Tricare for payment for my care. The other number is to a hospital where I’m hoping outpatient records may give some indication of the care I received, though it’s pretty doubtful. My therapist’s office was not in a hospital, but a mental health clinic.

So now I’m waiting for a call back from the hospital. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try contacting the Ombudsman again with a better explanation of where I received my mental health care.

When I Get “Real Writers’ Block”

I spoke briefly in a previous post about why my plotting sometimes doesn’t go well. But, while writing downswings are one of the most common reasons I struggle with my writing, they aren’t the only reason I do.

The other major reason why I have difficulty with plotting is because I simply haven’t thought something through well or deeply enough to see what else is possible in the story. Frequently, I’ll get so far in the outline and hit a block point where I come across something I haven’t given adequate thought to. Well, not conscious thought; frequently, in scenes I’ve written up to this point, I’ll later find I’ve set up the plot point I’m now working out.

This situation requires a little more effort than stepping away from the writing for a while. What I frequently discover when I hit a block like this, is that I want to read another story, either complete or not, set in the same world. I think this is my subconscious wanting to do two things: 1. take a break from the main WIP; and 2. refresh itself on what I’ve written previously. This is good for a few reasons, but one of the primary ones is that often I’ll come up with worldbuilding “facts” about the world or plotting ideas for other stories, including my current main project, while doing this. It’s a break from things, but one which pushes the current project forward in some way.

Then, once I’m done reading other WIPs, I’ll return to the current main project and read through it. This may or may not spark any fresh ideas, and I don’t always get them as I’m reading through what I have written already. After I read to the point where I stopped writing, I’ll do a little something else—say play a simple mind-numbing game, or devote some time to chatting with a friend on the phone or online. The key here is to keep myself busy, but not so much so I’m filling my mind with other information. Too much other information, even if it’s in my conscious mind, tends to interfere with my realizations of what the plot can do.

Once I’ve backbrained things for a bit, I read through the plot cards I have with an eye for pulling out subplots and emphasizing the main plot. Sometimes, when I get to the point where I’ve stopped the story’s outline, I have ideas for a plot card or two. Most of the times, it’s not so easy. I’ll go through this process several times before I try other tactics, because this usually eventually works, even if I have to repeat the process more than a couple times.

So I go do something mindless again while things percolate. I’ll go for a walk, do housework. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do something which totally occupies my mind at the same time it leaves it open for inspiration. Best thing for this is showering. I’m so busy thinking about what body part I need to scrub next and singing along with the radio, it gives my conscious mind a total break from the writing. I never come up with ideas while in the shower, but I’ve come back to my desk plenty of times after one, settled down in my after-shower robe, and inspiration will strike while I’m clipping my nails or mindlessly chatting with friends online.

If none of this works—and sometimes it doesn’t—I read a book I’m very familiar with. Old books I know well leave the mental door open for ideas for my writing, and sometimes even spark ideas. Books I’ve not read before aren’t so good for that. Also, I’ll try watching a movie I’ve seen many times before—for the same reason. It inspires and leaves the creative door open. Generally speaking, though, I’m much too focused on my writing to step away from the computer to watch a movie, so I don’t do that much.

But usually, I’ll figure out a plot card long before I have to resort to the movie-watching method of creative inspiration. I wrote it “Real Writers’ Block” because I don’t think there’s such a thing as writers’ block. I think we can all work our way past the difficulties we’ve written into our stories if we remain focused and determined and go seeking the inspiration we need—which is why most of my efforts involve remaining at the computer and actively concentrating on my work somehow. The other methods generally don’t work quite as well, and I when I return to the computer, I end up going through my WIPs and outlines a number of times again before inspiration does strike.

I firmly believe you have to hunt down inspiration and beat it on the head before it’ll work in a habitual manner, which is why I think having a regular writing schedule and habits around the writing process is a great help. Frequently, even when I’m doing something mindless—I’m doing that so I have a portion of my conscious mind free to devote to working out the plot issue that’s stopped me.

(WIP = Work In Progress)

Trans*

In case I haven’t made it clear enough elsewhere on this site, I’m not cisgendered. For those of you not in the know, “cisgender” means “denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.”

I have never completely identified myself as female. My longing for various aspects of masculinity (primarily the strength and facial hair and, especially, lack of prominent breasts—they are, unfortunately, extremely prominent) has always defined my self-image. I’ve never seen myself as wholly female. At best, prior to coming to accept my gender dysphoria, I saw myself as androgynous. It was the best I could do at the time when I was forced to try and align my real body to the body I wanted to have.

The shorthand explanation for this is, “trangendered” or “transsexual.” And these are used, by some in the LGBT and especially the trans* community, in specific ways at times. I dislike both of these. I also dislike “trans” and “trans*,” though I use the latter. It just looks more complete to me to have the asterisk there. In my personal usage of the terminology, I generally use “transgendered” for all and sundry who fall under the trans* umbrella unless they specifically ask me to use a different word. For myself, I’d much prefer to use “tranny,” but that invites disrespect, scorn, and mockery (if not worse), and it would offend quite a number of people, both trans* and not. So I use “trans*.” It’s my second favorite of the various words we can use.

It’s always, always important to refer to anyone with the terminology they request. I try to do this at all times. Because I want to be given the same respect.

I fought the truth about myself for most of my life (at this point of it). It’s only been within the past few years I’ve become comfortable and confident enough with myself as I am to be able to deal with being trans*. It’s impossible for me to guess what has brought or could bring someone else to the point where I am today. But for me, it was the fact I’d dealt with enough of my other psychological issues successfully enough to uncover the deepest part of my psyche—the disconnect I saw between my actual body and the one I believe I have.

I believe my body is male. This is in complete disregard of what I see when I look down at myself. When I see myself in a picture which shows any of my body from the neck down, I’m shocked, not only ’cause I’m fat (because I am, and it’s always a surprise to see how big I look), but also because I have breasts. I don’t mean the kind of breasts overweight men get. Even when I was young and much thinner—even when I was at my thinnest in the Navy—the fact I have large breasts always made me feel upset, a reaction I shoved deep inside and ignored until I was alone in a secure place where I could cry over it.

I have never expected to find a male body below my neck. In fact, my most favorite childhood picture of myself is one where I have a bowl cut. I’m wearing not a traditionally girly outfit or shirt or dress, but a red-and-white striped sweater with grey snowflakes. I have no idea why Mom didn’t think this was a boys’ sweater, but it looks like one to me, and I adore that school picture. Between the sweater and my boyish bowl cut, I look like any seven or eight year old boy. And I love it.

When I was a child, I’d play with any toy I was given. I even remember begging for real Barbie dolls as growing up. I was lucky with that. Mom didn’t restrict my playing according to visible gender. Because I asked for all kinds of boy toys too. Trucks and Hotwheels, I loved my blue Smurf Big Wheels tricycle toy, and I ran and rough-and-tumbled with the boys as well as the girls.

It wasn’t until I was eleven or twelve when I started to focus more on girl-things. About the time I got my first training bra, it came to me I was stuck in my girl-body and nothing could change that. I was surrounded by people I didn’t think would understand me, so I didn’t say anything about my boy feelings and made myself focus on girl things. I was a girl, so I had to do girl things.

I wasn’t consistent with this behavior, particularly once I got to high school. I didn’t feel the incredible pressure to fit in any more, so I did more things that were Ashe things, regardless of what gender the activity, or book I was reading, or show I was watching was marketed to.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-late twenties when I began to consider what I could do to change myself, and even then, it wasn’t much. I lived in North Carolina still then. And, a friend who’d moved away returned to visit. Seeing Marsha (not sure that’s how she spells her name; I never saw it written), spending those few precious hours I was able to, taught me more about myself than I wanted to learn right then. I still wasn’t ready to accept my feelings of masculinity. Was still too afraid of all it would mean to be the Ashe I saw in my head.

So, I joined the Navy, came back out West. Ended up here in Utah, and spent a few insane years meandering around, becoming Catholic, and losing friends I made because they moved out East due to financial reasons. Half my friends I had when I first came out here moved away—and I had only four (not including the kids). After that, I kind of drifted away from my other straight cisgender friends (all two of them, the ones with the kids).

Then, in 2009, I volunteered at Salt Lake City’s Pride Festival. I’d worked out I wasn’t straight, though I still hadn’t gotten to the point where I am now. I had, in fact, pretty deeply buried my trans* feelings. But I volunteered at Pride and discovered the square dance group I’m now secretary for.

I laugh now. All my friends back in North Carolina were straight cisgender men and women. Here, all my friends are gay men and women. I’ve met some other trans* folk in the past year or so. My life has completely flipped. And it’s wonderful. It’s my gay friends who’ve given me the confidence and courage to face the truth about myself. The truth that I am trans* and it’s all right. I’m finding my place, and I’m finding myself—the real Ashe. I have a long way to go—and I may never even get to where I want to go with my trans* issues—but I’m in a much better place, and much better frame of mind for dealing with it all now.

July Novel Writing Month

I’m participating in July Novel Writing Month this year.

I did this last year under this name with one of my Chraesti stories, and the year before I finished a half-completed gay romance under my other pen name on the site.

There’s also Camp NaNoWriMo, run by the official National Novel Writing Month whose event happens in November. I’ve tried the Camp version, but there are a lot of things I dislike about it, not the least of which is the cabin setup. Of the two to four events (it’s run twice a summer) I was in over the years I participated in it, I ended up in “cabins” (groups of up to 6) where most of the other members were uncommunicative and didn’t do much writing at all. I also happen to enjoy the bit of competition I find on the Julno site, which has a wordcount leaderboard.

This year, I’m working on a story set on an old-new world. The idea’s been floating around the back of my mind since at least 2009, but it reached the ready-to-write stage only last month. I’m rebeling it, which is acceptable to the Julno site, and started it with a count of 9725 words. I’ve added over 13k since the first of the month.

The story’s title is Where There’s Always Sunlight. I’m hoping have at least 60-70k on this story by the end of the month, though I don’t expect the story to be complete. My goal is to end the month in the top ten. I managed to do it last year, and I’m bobbing into and out of the top ten this year, so I think I’ll be able to end it in tenth place if not higher (I ended in 8th place last year).

Day vs. Night

(Considering my current condition, this will probably meander a bit.)

I’m in another of my fun bipolar swings. I’m mixed-state bipolar. In case I haven’t explained this before (and for any new readers), this basically means, I’m always, all the time, every day, experiencing some symptoms of the depressive side of the disorder while at the exact same time experiencing some symptoms of the manic (or, more precisely in my case, hypomanic) end of the disorder. This, I’m sure you realize, makes some of my days pretty interesting. One particular symptom which can be a characteristic of either end of the spectrum, is poor sleep habit.

My circadian rhythm is so screwed up right now, it’s unbelievable. A mentally healthy person could not do what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. For example, I spent Saturday, from about noon, to Sunday, until about midnight awake. Part of this was probably because I forgot to take my night meds on time, and when I did remember to, my mind was in hypomanic mode, which even my very good psych med regimen can knock out under “normal” circumstances. However, I have not been sleeping at night for the past three or four weeks. I’ve been rising between noon and three in the afternoon and staying up until five to seven in the morning.

No, it’s not daylight that’s interfering. It’s the bipolar. It decided it wanted me up at night, so it fights the psych meds, no matter when I take them. It’s worse if I try to take them on time for a sleep at night, because I’ve got my energetic, still quite alert, natural wakefulness momentum going, and when I’m in this state, my mind gets more active when the sun sets, so even if I take my meds like I should for that night of sleep I want so very much, I still spend most of the night lying awake, getting more and more frustrated as each hour passes, which only fuels the bipolar urge to be awake at night. If I take the medications “on time” for a day sleep, which is around midnight to one in the morning, I’ll probably drop off to sleep sometime around six in the morning.

If I forget to take my meds then?

I typically don’t realize I have until I’m still wide awake at 0600 and think to check my little daily pill-dose box thingie to discover my night meds still quite unswallowed. At that point, if I take them, it won’t do me any good at all. I’ll be totally useless. Unable to sleep, because I’m in bipolar second wind, but unable to gather the mental capacity to do anything useful. Even feed myself. I have before done this and literally spend all day at my computer with barely enough mind left to surf the net, never mind pay attention to what I’m seeing when I do.

So, I spent all Saturday night and Sunday-to-midnight awake. Slept sound, got up Monday . . . and did it again. Was up at noon fifteen Monday. I’m still going strong at half past five Tuesday evening. I’m not sure when—or even if—tonight’s dose of night meds will knock me out at all. Sunday night, when I was still up three hours after taking my night meds, I took half a dose of NyQuil. That, like it usually does, knocked me out at last. I’ll probably be doing the same tonight.

The worst thing about this—well two things—are that this circadian rhythm switch is unpredictable with regards to beginning and ending, as well as duration. I have no warning whatsoever before this switch happens. It just happens. One night, I sleep all the way through, the next night I’m wide awake until six the next morning even after taking my meds. Not even nightly doses of NyQuil can prevent this switch—and trying to only makes me irritable and even more unlikely to sleep during night hours. And I’ve already been like this for two or three weeks . . . and it could continue for months, or, horrors, years-again.

This is one of the Gotta Live With It aspects of my particular flavor of bipolar disorder. Whether another mixed-state bipolar person goes through this is a total crapshoot, and I’m miserable enough like this I don’t care to search to find out if I’m the only one. I know “misery loves company” but I really have no wish to learn somebody else shares this particular misery.

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