Medication Shift is a Bitch

Today I wanted to get a huge load off my chest. This past month has been one of the hardest months I’ve ever had. Quite frankly, it went by in one huge blur. I started the month off on two medications– Lamictal and Abilify, the latter of which has a nasty side effect of weight gain. Tired of my fitness goals being derailed by medication interference, I decided to get off of Abilify and switch to something without as many side effects. The doctor decided to put me on Geodon, another antipsychotic medication.

I couldn’t just stop Abilify cold turkey, though. I had to taper off of it, from 15mg, to 10mg, to 5, then 0. So for a period of time, I was on BOTH Geodon and Abilify. The interaction of the two medications results in extreme sedation. So for about two weeks, I was literally a zombie. I slept all day, every day. I couldn’t even get behind a wheel, for fear of falling asleep. Needless to say, I don’t remember much of that dark time.

Eventually, I finished tapering off Abilify and settled with just the Geodon and Lamictal. Without the tranquilizing effect of Abilify, however, my sleep did a complete 180 on me. I went from sleeping every minute of every day to not being able to sleep AT ALL. For the past week-and-a-half, I’ve been staying up all night, falling asleep around 6 or 7am. Then, I’d catch up on my sleep during the day, staying in bed until 4 or 5pm. Of course, by then, the day would almost be over. I’d wake up super groggy and spend the remainder of the day feeling like a zombie. I’d be completely unproductive at whatever I set out to do. I’d get about 3 hours of sunlight, maximum. By nightfall, I’d once again be wide awake. I hated the feeling of having so much energy at an ungodly hour without having anywhere to go to expend such energy. I can’t go running, because it’s not safe to be out alone that late at night. The gym is closed, as is Starbucks. No one is awake, so I’d have no one to talk to. The loneliness I felt was crippling.

Because of my sleep issues, I had to cancel all my work commitments last week, which made me lose a week’s worth of income. This does not bode well for my lifestyle, as I live paycheck to paycheck to support my expensive hobbies. So all of this week, I wasn’t able to do the things I enjoyed doing, like skating or dancing, because a) I didn’t have the energy to, and b) I didn’t have money. All these factors and more have contributed to my increasingly depressed spirits. I think I am going crazy.

The good news is, I’ll be speaking to my psychiatrist on Monday to discuss how we can correct this pervasive issue.

Phew. Sorry if this post was super depressing. It simply reflects my current miserable state of being. I am not usually one to entertain self-pity, but currently, I wish I could have any brain other than my own. Here’s hoping tonight will be a little bit better (though not likely).






I Miss College

It’s 12:14am. I’m sitting in my bed, bleeding my emotions onto the screen. Gahh… there’s so much on my mind right now… but why is it so hard for me to articulate my thoughts tonight?

Well, I think sleep deprivation is the number one culprit. Ever since I got off my old medication, I’ve been having so many sleep issues. I’ll be unable to fall asleep until 5am or 6am. I’ll get in a few hours of shut-eye before morning beckons me to wake up. Then I’ll be a zombie for the rest of the day. This pattern has been going on for the past week. I’ve emailed my psychiatrist about it, but she is out of the office until March 2. I guess I’ll just have to stick it out, in the meantime.

So, onto the meat of today’s post. Missing college. I’ve definitely been experiencing a lot of nostalgia as of late. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely, what with my parents gone on a two-week cruise. I spend most my days alone in an empty house, idling my time away on social media, living vicariously through all my college friends’ stories and posts. I know, super toxic and unhealthy. More often than not, I’ll feel even lonelier after seeing what my friends are up to, because I know I can’t be there with them as they continue to make memories together.

College, as difficult as it was, was a grand ol’ time indeed. So much intellectual and social stimulation. So many opportunities for personal and professional growth and development. It was a built-in community filled with intelligent, talented, ambitious people. I miss the structure of going to class every day, followed by studying in Powell library, then dance practice, then more studying, then sleep. Every minute of every day was scheduled. As a former competitive gymnast, I am so used to having structure in my life. I love being disciplined. It suits me well. Ever since moving back home, though, I’ve lost that structure. Yes, I have dancing and figure skating and work. Yet, I still find myself floating around most of the day… doing nothing productive. In these moments of do-nothingness, I will usually be scrolling through my phone, re-watching old dancing videos and basking in the memories of my college days, which are now behind me.

Sometimes, I still can’t believe I’ve graduated. It honestly feels like just yesterday when I was moving into Rieber Hall, excited beyond belief for the next four– correction, three– years. Wow. Typing out those words just brought on a surge of emotions. There’s nostalgia, fondness, and regret. Oh, lots of regret. I regret that I made the rash decision of graduating a year early. Had I stayed one year longer, I could have continued my journey of growth. There was still so much I longed to do at UCLA, from building my dance club, Bruin Burlesque, to picking up a theater or English minor, to becoming an editor for the school newspaper, to performing at UCLA’s annual talent show, Spring Sing. I could have done more networking with professors. I could have done undergraduate research. So much on my to-do list, but at the end of the day, most items were left unfulfilled. Goodness me. I feel such anger at myself right now. Why, oh why did I leave UCLA prematurely?

Welp. Can’t change the past. But I can control my present and try my hardest to move forward. Graduating early had its perks. I could finally focus on taking care of my mental health and getting the proper treatment I need. I’d save a year’s worth of tuition (“Yay”, says Dad). But leaving college early has been one of the biggest decisions of my life. And boy has the transition been difficult.

They say hindsight is never 20-20. Looking back, graduating early was an impulsive decision. I clearly remember the day I told myself I’d do it. I was standing inside the Bruin Bus, on my way home after my morning classes were over. I called my mom and told her, “By the way, I’ve decided to graduate early.” Keep in mind that this happened shortly after I made the equally momentous decision of sticking out my four years at UCLA. I even wrote a lengthy, heartfelt Facebook post about the beauty of staying in college. And then, all that went to sh** in one moment of, shall we say, misguided inspiration.

But back to my main point– why looking back and reflecting on past experiences may not be as reliable as we think. See, when I made the decision to leave UCLA, there HAD to be some driving force that caused it. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen spontaneously. There must have been a trigger. Looking back at the events leading up the decision, I vaguely remember being incredibly stressed with school. At that point, I had experienced many mental breakdowns (aka, depressive or manic episodes). I guess I was just fed up with it all and wanted to escape as fast as possible. So yeah, it’s easy to be angry at myself for making a seemingly erroneous decision. But I must remember that at the end of the day, I made the decision of my own accord.

When I decided to graduate early, I wasn’t happy. I was anxious, stressed, sleep-deprived and depressed. My pre-existing mental illness didn’t help, either. Many college students, especially those in a competitive environment, struggle with all the aforementioned things. Burnout. Anxiety. Depression. But most would not base a life-changing decision on a transient state of being. As I was manic when making that decision, I wasn’t thinking clearly, at all. My mind was all over the place. If I had known that impulsive decision-making is a hallmark symptom of mania, then I would have thought twice before completely changing my life course. But at that point, I was under-medicated and uneducated about the illness. As were my parents. I didn’t know better. And so I jumped. Took that leap of faith, but where did it land me? Depressed, lonely, embittered, regretful.

Sorry guys. I know this post was downright depressing. But it’s how I feel. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”

And here I am, bleeding out my heart onto the screen.


My Swift Descent Into Madness

Hey guys! It’s 4:53am as I sit in my bed, typing out this post. Sleep is not coming easy tonight, nor has it been for the past week. I suspect it has to do with the recent shift in my medication regimen. I was on an antipsychotic medication, Abilify, for over a year-and-a-half, and the medication has made me gain a significant amount of weight. Tired of feeling fat and constantly fighting carb cravings, I urged my psychiatrist to put me on a different medication called Geodon. I started taking Geodon about two weeks ago. I tapered off the Abilify and now I am completely off of the old medication. Almost overnight, my cravings for carbs and sweets disappeared. I find myself barely eating anything all day!  This past week, my sleep schedule has been totally out of whack. I sometimes find myself wide awake until 6am, and when I finally fall asleep, I don’t wake up until 3pm! Take tonight, for instance. I went out with my friends in San Francisco and danced hard all night. Came home at around 3am. Took a shower and got ready for bed. I’ve been trying to sleep for the past 2 hours, but to no avail. So I opened up my laptop and started writing. Even now, as I type out this blog post, I am wide awake. My brain is a little bit foggy, and the words are not flowing as fast as they usually do, but still, sleep will not come.

I can already sense a manic episode coming. In fact, I very well might be in the midst of a manic episode right now! After I finish typing this post, I will email my doctor and see what other options we have. In the meantime, I will try my best to manage the illness to slow down my swift descent into madness (the phrase is melodramatic, but I liked the sound of it, so there you have it).

Have a wonderful night, guys! Or rather, have a wonderful DAY!





Life Update 2/20/20: Social and Generalized Anxiety

Hi guys! Welcome back to my blog. Today’s post is kind of a free-flowing rant about what’s been going on with me lately.

Externally, not much has transpired since I last spoke to y’all. These days, I’m doing a lot of dancing and figure skating whilst supporting these expensive passions by working (freelance tutoring, SAT English/math tutoring, teaching a stretching class, working as a personal assistant to a family friend). Mental health-wise, I am taking much better care of myself. I’m following my medication regimen religiously, going to acupuncture twice a week, attending therapy and bipolar group sessions twice a week. And, of course, I’m doing a LOT of writing, whether it’s in my private diary, on this blog, or on my website. Slowly but surely, I am making decent progress on my book, which is currently over 100 pages long! I’m happy because I’m finally finding my groove here in the Bay! No longer am I bitter about moving back home after college, nor am I constantly plagued by a strong desire to move back to LA.

Despite all the good that’s been happening in my life as of late, I find myself constantly anxious about… well, everything! I’m worried I’ll get into a car accident, or get a 3rd-degree burn from a cooking mishap. Things like that. I know it’s my generalized anxiety talking, and I’ll definitely address the issue with my therapist.

I also have found that my social anxiety is creeping back. If you guys don’t know, I’ve been battling social anxiety since high school. Naturally introverted, my shyness got really bad in sophomore year of high school, when an injury took me out of gymnastics— my life and identity for ten years. My self esteem went to zero, and I isolated myself from my schoolmates, spending lunch time either sitting alone in a classroom or inside a library, studying or writing. This was how many of my social fears were acquired.

Then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during sophomore year of college. The illness is characterized by manic/hypomanic and depressive episodes. One of the characteristics of mania/hypomania is decreased social inhibition and marked increase in self-esteem. When I first got to college, I was extremely manic. Overnight, I broke out of my shell and transformed into a completely different person than I was in high school! I was very popular among my floor mates, classmates, friend group, and even professors. I was super friendly and outgoing with everyone I met, and I literally gave zero hoots about what other people thought of me. I thought I had finally conquered the social anxiety beast. Little did I know that this guise of social confidence was really a manifestation of mental illness, rather than genuine confidence.

Regardless, in college, I was challenged every day socially, and because of that, a part of me was truly tackling and overcoming social anxiety, illness aside.

Then, I came home from college, where I received extensive mental health treatment. The medications I am on have brought me down from the manic state. Now stable, I’ve found myself reverting back to my introverted tendencies. I admire the confidence I used to exhibit. I am light-years away from the girl I was at UCLA.

Another factor that has exacerbated my anxiety is the fact that I am no longer challenged socially every day. I spend most of my days at home, living like a recluse. The only social stimulation I get is when I’m at the dance studio or skating rink. Even there, I don’t have many friends who are my age, so I don’t get much socializing done.

This past week, I’ve been fixated on my social anxiety, worried about my symptoms and how others would perceive me if they found out I had this anxiety disorder. I worry about even the slightest things— meeting new people, job interviews, presentations, being in front of a camera, etc. etc. Such a regression from the confident and uninhibited person I was in college. I miss that Belicia. But you know what? That Belicia was using her illness as a crutch. A shortcut of sorts, to building confidence. If there’s one good thing that’s come from all this, it’s that I have been stripped of all illusions and am ready to build genuine confidence from the ground up. Without the bipolar mania backing me up, I will struggle socially. I will shake and tremble and sweat, but you know what? That is okay. The only way to tackle the social anxiety beast is to fight it head on. I always look up to Eleanor Roosevelt who, before becoming the First Lady, was incredibly, incredibly shy. She had to overcome so many obstacles and personal hurdles to get to where she ended up. Same with the actress Lucille Ball, who played the titular character in “I Love Lucy”. In an interview, she said that acting school taught her “how to be afraid”.

I beat social anxiety once, in high school. Junior and senior year were formative years in my high school career. Tired of living a miserable existence of depression and anxiety, I was ready for change. So I started going to therapy, where I worked closely with my therapist to tackle each fear, head on. Eager to build confidence, I decided to start Latin-ballroom dance. I remember nearly having a panic attack before my first social dance class. I was super nervous for my first private lesson, which happened on Valentine’s Day of 2015 (kind of poetic how that worked out, huh?). I took a 6-week public speaking course at a local community college. The day before the class commenced, I remember walking on the levee, balling my eyes out because I was so terrified for what was to come. But I survived it, and did very well!

So, that’s it for my long-winded rambling. I feel a lot better, getting all my anxieties and worries out of my head and onto paper (or in this case, my laptop screen). Writing, especially expressive writing, is super cathartic and helpful for anyone who has a lot on their mind. I’ve been writing on this blog for the past five years, and it’s been nothing but the most rewarding experience. Thank you to all of my loyal band of readers. Your continued support means so much to me. Have a wonderful rest of the week!



Nighttime Musings 2/8/2020

Hi everyone! It’s 10:46pm as I begin today’s post. For some strange reason, I found myself tonight feeling a little extra lonely and a little extra nostalgic for my college days, which are now behind me.

For the past hour, I’ve been mindlessly scrolling through social media, living vicariously through my college friends’ many nighttime adventures. One friend is celebrating her birthday by throwing a huge rager with lots of booze, lots of dancing, and lots of fun. Another is enjoying a more wholesome– but no less magical– evening walking along Santa Monica pier with her boyfriend, basking in the cool evening breeze of Venice beach.

And here I am. Many a mile away, alone in my room, typing out this post. There’s a heaviness that sits in my chest. It’s like I almost want to cry, but the tears won’t come. Just a weight that cannot be lifted.

Is it FOMO? Nostalgia? Self-pity? Maybe a mixture of all those things, and more. Earlier tonight, I was just thinking how lucky I am to be in my present situation. At home, spending time with family. Getting the mental health care I need. Not having to worry about paying rent. Making money through various jobs I enjoy, and being able to pour all that money into my creative passions. Like, when else in my life have I been able to do all that?

There’s a line from a song in Hamilton the musical. It says, “Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” And it’s true. Even though my present situation is not perfect, I must count my many blessings. I am, indeed, so lucky to be alive and (relatively) well, (relatively) healthy, and (relatively) happy. A huge step forward from where I was just a few months ago, when I hit rock bottom.

While the heaviness in my chest remains, I can at least go to sleep tonight assured that I am in a good place in my life. So long as I remember to be grateful, I will give myself a fighting chance at finding inner peace and happiness.