Routine and Mental Illness

There are things I used to do that are good for my mental health that I no longer do; things I had forgotten I used to do. A major one is reading a daily reflection book. I used to do this every single morning when I sat outside and drank my first cup of coffee and smoked cigarettes. I don’t smoke anymore, so there’s that. It’s been almost a year now. Unbelievable!

I’m trying to focus on the positive: that they found my renal disease in an early stage where I am not sick; that no treatment or even diet changes are needed.  I’m so lucky to have found out so as to not cause more damage by continuing to take the Allieve. 

I’ve got to be grateful, something else I used to do routinely. This constant crying is exhausting and it has given me a migraine once already this week. I can’t risk anymore.

I know the emotions are ok; I know I have to feel them (God, do they feel awful!) I just don’t want to get stuck in them.  I don’t want this to trigger a depressive episode.

Three healthcare professionals (2 of them doctors) have told me in the last few months that I am on a lot of medicine. Well, I am, but by them pointing it out I feel like I shouldn’t be.  

Most of them are psych drugs, but I’m hesitant to say anything to my psychiatrist because I don’t want her to get defensive.

Three are migraine drugs, one of which I am going to ask to be taken off of because it does nothing, and another I am going to ask my nuerologist to decrease because a recent dose increase did nothing.

All of these things take time and lots of effort to get in touch with the doctors and wait for call backs and getting new meds from the pharmacy, and you never talk directly to the doctor, always the nurse-messengers, back and forth with all the messages.

And then there is the actual discontinuation symptoms or withdrawal symptoms of coming off of medications, which can be horrendous, and it always risks a mood episode, which is why I am so hesitant to do it in the first place.

I can’t risk a depressive mood episode.  I’ve got a life to live!  It’s why I, not routinely but religiously, take my meds when I am supposed to.

I think I’ll start with the two migraine meds and then see about the psych meds. I know I need some of each, but maybe not all. 

Accomplishments When You Have Mental Illness

I went into major self pity mode last night; feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile in the last decade, since it’s been close to that long since I worked outside the home due to my disabilities of mental illness and migraine.

Now I just found out I have stage 3 chronic renal disease. I thought being sick meant I haven’t contributed anything.

Then I realized I’ve done some pretty fantastic stuff in that time. I have half and more than half way raised two beautiful children. I am a good mom to them. I really am.

I am proud of the choices I have made in my life to be healthier and happier for me and for them, even though at the time they weren’t really choices, but rock bottoms with no way out but up.

I could choose on any day to go back to those destructive ways, but I don’t. That says something, but nothing that I could explain to say, an old highschool friend who I haven’t seen in ten years, who may ask me what I’ve been up to all this time. 

I couldn’t tell her about all that I’ve been through and accomplished in real life to stay sober or to stay alive; all the mood swings managed, the medication changes dealt with, the physical pain endured, the panic attacks suffered through, the doctors appointments attended, and the therapy sessions completed.

And then there is all the mental health articles and stories on mental illness I have penned under psuedonyms over the years; the hundreds of poems or the chapbooks I’ve authored, again under a psuedonym; the volunteer work I’ve done online to help those in need, hidden behind a screen name to protect my anonymity from prying eyes, and the people I have helped in real life whose anonymity I have to maintain because it is one of the main principles of the program.  No, I couldn’t tell her all of these things. 

I would have to respond with something like, “Oh, not much.  Just staying home with the kids,” which doesn’t sound like much, but it is. It is a lot…with so much more. 

The Next Step

It’s been a busy last two weeks getting ready for Christmas, and now it is over. I feel the let down already. Is the usual winter depression on its way?  We shall see.

Right now, I’m thinking too keenly about what is coming up next: my first appointment with a kidney specialist.  I don’t know where this is going or what I am going to find out. I don’t know what I have or how bad it is. I really don’t want to go. I want to forget about knowing there is something wrong with my kidneys. I want everything to be alright again.

I never remember feeling this way about mental illness. It seems like there has always been something wrong with me emotionally and mentally.  But, I do remember being scared with each new mental illness diagnosis I got (major depressive disorder, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder.)

I remember thinking the same things I am thinking now: I don’t know where this is going, what I am going to find out or how bad it is.

With all those diagnoses, I have made it through those questions, and now manage my illnesses fairly well.  So, this gives me hope that once I have the information I need to manage whatever is wrong with my kidneys, all will be well with that, too.

Mental and Physical Chaos

I saw my psychiatrist today and shared with her how I cycled recently through some hypomania (irritability, agitation, losing temper, grandiosity, excessive spending) and then dipped into some depressive symptoms (loss of interests in hobbies, crying for no reason, feeling overwhelmed with everyday things, excessive worrying about friends and family problems.)

She is not changing any medications, probably because I am still functional. I’m “suffering on the inside, but still able to function,” as she put it.

For how many of you is this true?  You struggle to make it through each day because of your mental illness symptoms, wondering if it will ever NOT be so challenging to live. 

I suppose those with physical disabilities feel the same way. A paraplegic can’t have an easy time getting up and ready each day, but he does it just the same. As do we. We are not unique. 

I found out today that I have something wrong with my kidneys. An ultrasound shows they are “thinning.” Being an otherwise physically healthy middle-aged adult  (minus the chronic migraine), I am not happy about this. The next step will be to see a Nephrologist to find out more.

In the meantime, my GP told me not to take allieve which is part of what I take for migraine relief.  WTF!  Ugh!

Light Therapy Works

I asked my daughter if she was still having suicidal thoughts after using the light therapy box for 10 days now, and she said no.  Hallelujah!

I’m doing better at not taking things personally.  There was an incident where my middle schooler criticized what she got for St. Nicholas day this week, and I took offense to it, and reprimanded her for bad manners.  She felt very guilty for upsetting me, which didn’t feel right to me.

Soon after, I remembered what The Four Agreements book had to say about not taking things personally.  I realized she obviously expected more than what she got, and in that sense it is her issue to resolve, and really had nothing to do with me.

I apologized for taking her response to the gift personally and told her it was not her fault I got offended. I could see the weight lift from her shoulders and the relief on her face.

She said she was sorry, too, and that she was just expecting multiple items because that is what she got in past years. 

I know we both felt so much better after talking this out.  I think coming to terms with reality is so important in taking responsibility for the way you feel.  Likewise, leaving others to suffer in their own fight against the acceptance of the way things are is the first step towards not taking anything they do or say to you personally.

I’ve been filled.with anxiety trying to get some Christmas projects done, therefore haven’t been sleeping enough and falling behind on chores. Doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Need to think this through and make a plan to consciously stop going, going, going.  I’ll get mentally sick if I don’t. 

I’ve been gaining some weight- four pounds in the last 7 weeks.  So, I started counting calories, increasing protein and decreasing sugar. We’ll see how it goes.

Depression Updates

Good news:since beginning the 4mg of tizanidine every night at the start of November, I’ve had only 2 migraines and one serious tension headache. This is great considering I haven’t had less than five migraines in one month since August of 2015!

I’m still getting teary-eyed pretty often. I tried to go to church and it was so crowded that I panicked and almost cried. It was awful. 

Sometimes I’ll just be sitting on the couch not feeling well and just start crying for no apparent reason other than I feel sad.

I’m overwhelmed by all of these little unfinished projects hanging over my head that have to do with Christmas decorating and presents mostly, plus a home improvement project I need to finish.

I have friends coming over this week and I am consciously making an effort to not drive myself crazy by being perfectionistic about the decorations, house cleaning, and food.  It is going to be a challenge.

I feel like I need to make a list of things NOT to do instead of a list of things to do, like 1) Leave the clutter on the counter 2) Don’t worry about putting Christmas decorations in the bathroom 3) Skip giving the dogs a bath, for starters.

My daughter has been using the light box for four or five days now.  I hope it is helping her. She hasn’t been curled up in bed anymore so I feel hopeful, and will check in with her soon for an update.