Seasonal Depression is Back

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I walked into my daughter’s bedroom last night to ask her a question.  The lights were off and I found her wrapped cocoon-like in a thick blanket, head covered except for her face, lying on her side in the fetal position.  “Are you ok?” I asked.  “I’m fine,” she answered.  Yeah, right! I thought.

Long story, short, I came to find out that she’s been having suicidal thoughts for about a week now.  Her depression is back.  😦  Things in her life are going well, not like last year at this time when she lost all of her friends and she was at her old high school, which caused her extreme amounts of anxiety.  Right now, she has great friends and teachers, and she is in a wonderful school environment.  She said everything is good in all those areas.

It is the weather.  I know it is.  It just turned cold here about a week or two ago.  The days are dreary and sometimes rainy.  There is always a chill in the air, if not downright freezing.  I’ve been feeling it bring down my mood, too, as I wrote yesterday.  Even my husband said it is negatively affecting his mood.

She doesn’t have a plan, so I don’t think she is in immediate danger.  The thing that sucks is that we are in between psychiatrists right now, and aren’t set to see the new one until January.  I am going to call today to see if we can get in sooner than that.

In the meantime, I got out my light box for her to use.  I used it for a few years when my depression got really bad, but I haven’t needed it in quite a while, thankfully.  I am hoping it helps her get by until we see the new doctor; that it keeps her symptoms from getting worse, or even better, that it makes her depression go away.

Us adults know how hard it is to deal with these mental illness symptoms.  I can’t imagine how horrible it is for a 15-year-old to manage them.  Please pray for her if you are so inclined.

Also, I am wondering how many people out there deal with seasonal depression like we do and how you cope with it?

 

 

Don’t Take Anything Personally With Mental Illness

I’m doing something I never do…I’m writing this post on my phone. I always use my laptop so I can easily type away, format the way I want, insert the appropriate sized image just right, and spell check everything.  Tonight, however, I just don’t care. I don’t need to be perfect. I’m too tired and worn out to put forth my best effort. I take that back. This is my best effort.

It has been weeks since I’ve posted on my photo blog or even edited anything, or God help me, gone out and shot anything worthy.  I haven’t kept up with visiting my blogging friends for way too long either.

I miss my photography. It’s winter and it’s cold and dreary in the Northern Hemisphere right now. Although a month ago it was warm and full of fall colors, but that didn’t get me and my camera out.

I keep telling myself that I am not depressed, and I truly think I am not.  I am just so busy with kid stuff that I have no energy left for my own things. I suppose that is what has changed. I recently had energy for both, now I don’t.

So, decreased energy, increased anxiety, feel like crying for no reason, loss of interest in hobbies.  It could be depression.

I had to stop taking the Spironolactone last Thursday for my acne because they think it caused my creatinine levels to increase (to 1.32, where normal levels are between 0.5 – 1.1.)  I have to go to my PCP to have it retested to be sure, in case it is something else.  I wish the dermatologist would retest and if it doesn’t come back down THEN send me to my PCP.  It seems to me a waste of a co-pay and my time to have to go to another doctor when she (the dermatologist) could just reorder the lab work herself.

I’m exhausted from Christmas shopping. Did it all online; spent hours and hours looking. Remodeled bathroom, so, been busy with that. Then Thanksgiving Day holiday family stuff, and kids off of school.  Like I said, it’s been really busy.

I’ve had a lot of incidents of social anxiety lately, too, with my daughter’s new volleyball team starting up and having to meet and spend time getting to know new parents. It is so hard for me to do this.

Today there was an event we had to go to and I slept terrible last night, almost cried twice today and felt like I was going to throw up and had digestive issues all day because of nerves about it.

I also had to take anxiety pills this week for two visits to see family like I always do because they are so stressful.

I need to cut myself some slack. Some days I am so busy, so productive and on top of things and in control that I feel manic and other days I am so drained I feel depressed. Maybe I am cycling. Mostly, I don’t know.

I’m still reading The Four Agreements book by Don Miguel Ruiz.  The second agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Basically anything anyone says to you or about you is because of what they believe or what kind of mood they are in or how they were raised or any other number of reasons that have nothing to do with you. So, don’t ever take anything personally. It’s never really about you. It’s about what is going on inside of them.

My favorite quote in this chapter is “Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me.'” So true!

I feel like I am drowning in my thoughts most days. There are too many of them at one time rolling over one another in constant motion.

I still do my breathing meditation for 10-15 minutes about 3 times a week. It takes a lot of concentration to focus just on my breathing, and most of the time I can only do it for a minute or two before my mind wanders.  I’ll bring it back and try again and again until my alarm sounds. When I started this practice two months ago it wasn’t this hard.

The worst feeling is not being comfortable being with yourself. I usually don’t have a problem with this. I normally enjoy my time alone during the day when everyone is at work and school. It is much more serene and peaceful than when everyone is home in the evenings and on the weekends.

However, lately being alone is more nerve wracking than being around everyone. At least when my family is home I am distracted from the racing thoughts and impending doom that looms over me; the aches and pains in my head and neck and over all muscle fatigue and weakness of depression’s handiwork; the feeling like I’m coming down with the flu or I have a hangover but it’s just another restless night’s sleep and anxiety-induced digestive issue.

Can anyone relate?

I’m sure someone can. It’s mental illness after all, which is why I can’t take it personally.

Be Impeccable With Your Word for Better Mental Health

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I made it through the first part of the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  The first agreement is “Be Impeccable With Your Word.”  He says that our words have power; are like magic.  Words can harm or help.  Words can incite hate or promote love.  It is here where the impeccable part comes in.

Impeccable means to not sin against one’s self.  When we attack or speak unlovingly to others we create in them negative feelings towards us, thereby causing harm or “sinning” against ourselves.

Being impeccable means being genuine and loving with ourselves by being genuine and loving with others.  It’s knowing when to say something and when to be silent.  It is avoiding gossip at all costs.  It’s not only learning what to say, but HOW to say it.  I am finding out, as I try to apply this agreement to my daily life, that it is a very difficult thing to do.

I find myself NOT being impeccable with my word about things all day, even silly things like complaining about an app on my phone – saying things like, “These app developers don’t know what they are doing.  If they had any sense they’d know what people want!”

That is not being impeccable with my word.  Instead I could have said, “I wish the app had this feature on it.”  See the difference?  In the former I felt irritated and angry and self-righteous.  In the latter, my emotive state would have been much calmer and serene, thus impeccable.

This is going to take a lot of practice and mindfulness to change, because I think I am more of a complainer than I realize.  I gossip and I judge and I complain.  I’ve worked really hard over the last couple of months to stop judging myself; to be impeccable with my word directly towards myself, and I’ve made a lot of progress with it.

Now, it is time to look outside of myself and make some changes.  Now, it is time to try to be completely impeccable with my word in not just my relationship with myself, but in how I relate to everyone and everything.

Wish me luck.

 

Choosing Wisely When You Have a Mental Illness

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Two weeks ago my neurologist started me on a muscle relaxer for my migraines, and I haven’t been writing here about how it has been affecting me because I write in the mornings, and I’ve been too tired in the mornings to write.  So, that is how it has been affecting me.  I take it at night before bed, and I still feel exhausted come morning.

I am going to experiment with taking it earlier in the evening, like around 8pm rather than 10pm like I’ve been.  Also, since I have gone from taking 10mg of Adderall in the am and 10mg at noon to still 10mg in the am, but only 5mg at noon, I am going to add the 5mg I am not using at noon anymore to my morning routine to help fight off the fatigue from the muscle relaxers.  So, I will now be taking 15mg of Adderall in am and the regular 5mg at noon.

For the last two weeks, all I’ve felt like doing during the day is lying around in bed and sleeping.  It is not as bad on the weekends because my family is here.  I don’t feel depressed, just tired.

I feel tired from the medicine, tired from kid-stress, and tired from kid-activities, and tired from online shopping for myself and for Christmas presents.  I’ve been on my phone shopping so much that I am waking up at night with numb hands from carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms!

I started freaking out about the money I have been spending lately, and applied for a job at a retail store against my husband’s advice.  The manager called, and after talking to her, I decided I wouldn’t take the job because she needed someone to work more hours than I knew I could handle.

I stopped spending money on myself, even though it is very hard now that I have started.  I don’t even go on the app on my phone that I love to browse.

I am also saving money by switching to a new grocery store chain (Walmart.)  The reason I am switching is because I just found out they have a grocery pick up service.  This is an amazing, amazing service!

I order my groceries online, drive to the store, an app on my phone lets them know I am there, and they bring my groceries out to my car and load them in the trunk…for FREE!  (The service is free not the groceries ;))

My husband is really loving it because he does most of the shopping because I can’t handle it due to my anxiety.  Definitely check and see if they have it available in your area.

I take pictures for a hobby and I am good at it.  I could be a professional photographer.  People have told me so – even strangers have wanted me to take their pictures.  I’ve taken friends’ and family’s portraits rather than them going to a studio.  But, my social anxiety and fear of failing and the stress of dealing with potential customer problems keeps me from doing it professionally.

My husband said maybe when the kids are grown and I don’t have the stress of them and their activities going on that I will be able to handle the stresses of a job or of running my own photography business.  It’s not that I am unskilled or do not have talent.  It’s just that I am only capable of tolerating so much stress before a bipolar mood state is triggered.

I have to accept the reality of that fact no matter how much I dislike it.  I have to respect the limits my disorder places on my choices no matter how much I want to fight them.  It’s a matter of life or death.

I can choose to die by pushing myself too far past my stress threshold or I can choose to live healthily within the boundaries of my current capabilities.

At one point in my life, I ignored my limits and almost died because of it – overdose, hospital emergency room, inpatient stay, the whole bit.

Today, I choose the latter.  Today, I choose to live.

What do you choose?

 

 

I Will Do the Best That I Can

There’s a lot of confusion in my brain when it comes to my behaviors, because depending on my mood state my behaviors change considerably.  For example, right now, and for the last four days or so, I have been rather hyper and talkative and gossipy, opinionated, controlling, passive aggressive, and argumentative.  I’m normally somewhat controlling and I gossip sometimes, but not to this extreme.

I am working on Step 6 with one of my AA sponsees, and I thought maybe I should probably work it myself on some of the aforementioned character defects.  But, are they true character defects or are they symptoms of some hypomania?

It fucking drives me crazy trying to distinguish between the two.  I keep trying to tell myself to stop doing these things and then a minute later I am compelled to do them again.  It is like I can’t stop myself by sheer will power.

How can I improve my character if my character isn’t even the problem.  But, then again, what if it is?  Or is it my bipolar?  How do I know?

Just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to reread a book I have, called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It has some awesome communication tips that I think will make me feel a whole lot better if I am able to follow them.  (See #1 below.)

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I just got to get out of this mouth-running, ego trip, complaining, controlling, perfectionist, high and mighty state of mind.  It makes me feel guilty for talking about people in a negative manner.  It makes me feel shameful in front of the people with whom I am gossiping.  I beat myself up over it, often berating myself with negative internal dialogue, which I am not supposed to do.  My doctor warned it can trigger depression in me.  I feel remorse after I do it, too.  Guilt, shame, and remorse – not fun.

I’ve been having a hard time communicating properly with my family as well, being passive-aggressive or yelling aggressively.  Always apologizing, and again beating myself over it afterwards.  I think Agreement #3 will help me a lot in dealing with my family from here on out.

This all stops now.  If not the behaviors totally then the negative internally dialogue for sure.  I can use Agreement #4 as my mantra to combat the times I start to beat myself up for slipping.

Wish me luck.

 

Ways to Organize, and Discontinue, Medications

I heard back from my neurologist yesterday and I was wrong about what he is going to do next about my migraine situation.  I thought he was going to increase my current preventative medication dosage, but instead he is adding an additional medication.  He said he hates to do it “because I am on so many medicines already,” and he’s right.

I keep a list of all the medications I am on in my phone so I have them handy when I have to fill out forms at the doctor’s office.  I haven’t updated them in a while, so I did this morning and holy crap!  If the number of medicines a person is on is any indication of how ill they are, then I am one sick puppy!

I am on six psychiatric and four migraine medicines.  I take two of them only as needed; the other eight I take daily.  I also take a pill for acne and four vitamin/supplements.  So, all together I take thirteen different medication/supplements a day!

How I Organize My Medications

I take them at various times throughout the day, so I use one of those morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime pill boxes like this:

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Some of my meds have to be taken with food, some without, some at bedtime, some several hours before bed, some in the am, some not with vitamins, and some not after 3pm.  It really takes a lot of organization to keep them straight.  I do this by putting a number on the cap of each bottle indicating the order in which I put them in my pill box, so as to make sure I am putting the right medicine in the right time of day, and that I don’t leave any out.

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My Take on Medication Discontinuation

Like everyone, I assume, I don’t like taking medicine, and I surely hate taking so many.  I don’t think I need them all, but I wouldn’t know where to begin to cut some out.  Plus, I am still having symptoms, so taking even one away would increase the risk of my symptoms worsening and I don’t want that to happen.

In the past, my doctor has decreased medication when it was obviously causing negative symptoms.  For example, my Adderall was increasing my anxiety so we cut it down from 20 to 10mg and my anxiety got better.  I recently noticed this happening again so I cut it down further to 5mg.  This helped just like before.

Although I wasn’t experiencing any more anxiety from the Adderall, I was curious to see if I could manage on even less, so I cut it down again to 2.5mg and I immediately became overly fatigued and nonfunctional.  So, I went back up to the 5mg and felt like myself again.  I think this is how most medication discontinuation attempts probably happen.

(NOTE: YOU SHOULD NEVER STOP TAKING OR DECREASE YOUR MEDICATION WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT IT FIRST.  DOING SO COULD BE DANGEROUS AND/OR LIFE THREATENING.)

  1. Wait until you are symptoms free.
  2. Under your doctor’s guidance decrease dosage of the medication.
  3. Wait and see if symptoms return.
  4. If no symptoms return, decrease dosage some more.
  5. If symptoms return, increase dosage to last effective level.
  6. Repeat process until either off of medicine completely or stable again on the least amount of medicine.

 

What about you?  How many meds do you take?  How do you keep them organized?  Have you had a successful experience with coming off a medication?

Choosing to Love or Hate Yourself

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I have been really busy the past week.  My youngest was home from school for three days, then we went out of town all weekend.  Next, my older one was home yesterday and again today due to an injury.

All of these things are out of the ordinary; out of my normal routine, but I think I have handled them fairly well.  I ran errands with my youngest on her days off and I was anxious  doing that, like I always am.  I took an Ativan for anxiety each day we were out of town, like I always do.  I was anxious and worried about my daughter’s injury, like any parent would be, until I found out it wasn’t serious.

Everything is status quo.

Is that acceptable to me?  Do I want to change my anxiety level when I have to run errands or go out of town?  Sure I do.  Can I?  I don’t know.  I’m working on the self-talk, but it only goes so far.

I wear out easily when I have to do all the things I have done in the last week.  I can choose to accept this or fight it.  I can choose to be easy on myself because of it or hate myself for it.  It is a choice.

This is where the true self-talk comes in; the self-talk that leads to depression or keeps me stable; the self-talk my doctor challenged me to pay close attention to.

I choose acceptance.  I choose self-compassion.  I choose to love myself how I am, where I am, independent of what I can or cannot do.  Doing is not a criteria on which to base my self-worth.  I am inherently worthy.  And so are you.

Medication Update

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I tried cutting my Adderall down to 2.5mg in the afternoon and I got too exhausted and nonfunctional.  So, I am going to stick with the 5mg (and my normal 10mg in the morning) for now.

I am putting a call into the neurologist today because the 120mg of propranolol did not decrease my migraines this month.  I expect he will bump it up to 180mg now.

I started on a new medication  six days ago called spironolactone for some acne issues I’ve been dealing with for the last few years since my hormones changed.  Both the propranolol and spironolactone lower blood pressure and raise potassium levels so I have to be careful; watch for signs of dizziness, etc. and get my blood drawn in a month to check my potassium levels because apparently it can be really dangerous if they are too high.

Meditation Update

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I’ve still been doing my breathing meditation three times a week on average.  It is becoming easier to focus on just my breathing, but my mind still wanders some.  It is very relaxing and I do enjoy it.  The ten minutes go by very quickly.  Every so often I surprise myself and have the attention and desire to do it for twenty minutes.  It feels really good to get out of my head for a short time.  You should try it if you can.