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!

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.

 

Bipolar Anxiety Confusion

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It is amazing how much medication affects our brains.  What I thought was part of a hypomanic episode this past month turned out to be a side effect from a migraine preventative medicine.  I was seeing all of these vibrant, deep, rich colors in everything, almost like everything was super saturated and outlined in black.  Turns out this is a side effect of propranolol, of which my dose was doubled in the beginning of September.

As to the project oriented, high energy behavior and lack of sleep – well, I am now more apt to chalk that up to anxiety versus hypomania.  This is all important because if my doctor is to consider medication changes, she would change a different one for the anxiety than she would for the mood fluctuations.  Having both bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders is so complicated.

All in all, I think my mood is back to normal, so I am not too worried about that.  My anxiety, on the other hand, is always an issue.  No matter what we do with the medication, it seems like nothing really helps.

I am not anxious about anything in particular.  I just never seem to feel all the way relaxed.  I am always worried about gaining weight or not losing it, about when I am going to get my next migraine, about having to leave the house, about not leaving the house, about my husband’s weight, my daughter’s weight, my daughter’s mental health.  Ha!  I guess there are particular things I am worried about after all.

I am still not sleeping well and am experiencing cognitive deficits.  I am usually very good about planning ahead and making sure I have my prescriptions called into the pharmacy or requested from the doctor well before I run out.  This week I realized I didn’t do that with one of the them, so I may miss a dose or two.  Last week I completely forgot to put a medicine in my pill-box and missed its dose.  These things are just not like me.

I can’t seem to focus on what people are saying and I forget what they say, thereby embarrassing myself asking the same question over and over again.  I’ve checked and these symptoms are not side effects of the medication increase I talked about above.  I see my psychiatrist this week so I will talk to her about it then.

Mostly, I am just sick of not liking the person I am.  I have tried so hard to combat the negative judgements I have about myself this month, but sometimes I just breakdown in frustration at the fact that pretending to like myself is just that – pretending.  It is a freaking lie, and lying about it feels worse than the actual negative thoughts themselves.

I am also sick of merging some of the dichotomies of life.  I suppose this marks progress for me because I used to be such a black and white thinker which was not healthy or helpful at all.  But wanting to do something at the same time as not wanting to do it because of my anxiety is confusing.  Liking someone at the same time as not liking them sounds crazy, right?  Well, it feels crazy, too.  Wanting to be at home, but not wanting to be at home makes me want to pull my hair out.

Now I just feel like I am complaining and I hate that.  I will end by saying I am grateful for many things in my life.  I have a good life with good friends and a good family.  I need for nothing, except for better health, and I’ll keep working for that as best as I can, day by day.

Photo credit: j.rozek via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Bipolar Mood Charting

A little over a month ago, my psychiatrist challenged me to closely monitor my negative self-talk because she suspected it was playing a role in my mood instability more so than the chemical imbalances in my brain at this point, which she feels is under control by medication.  I agreed to go along with her little experiment, and so far, there is some definite evidence that my mood changes are not idiopathic.  In other words, they don’t just happen for no reason.

I had a good few weeks of stability from mid to late September.  This was right after she told me to watch my thinking, so I was being very diligent with it.  The last part of September, I went into a hypomanic phase for a few days, and I link it to the stress and excitement of my daughter’s homecoming activities.

During homecoming weekend, I had a very difficult time due to some complex PTSD issues from my past that it brought to the surface.  I wrote about it some here.  I didn’t do well processing my feelings and had multiple migraines and GI issues.  A depressive state ensued.

I recovered from that after about a week.  Then I had a medication changed which I believe is now triggering another minor depressive phase.

I have outlined all of these ups and downs in the chart below.

mood-graph

The medication change is causing me to get less sleep, therefore, I am experiencing an increase in irritability, lack of focus, poor concentration, poor memory, decreased motivation, and increased negative thinking, which is what my doctor really warned me about.  I have to fight the negative thinking with everything I’ve got because it will only perpetuate the depression.

When I made lunch the other day for friends and my recipes were less than excellent, I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter; that mediocre was acceptable; that they didn’t come for the food, but for the company, except I didn’t even give them that.  I spent too much time in the kitchen preparing the meal.  The next time I will store-buy items instead of making everything from scratch.

I am so tired of trying to be perfect even though at the time I truly think I am enjoying it.  Afterwards, however, upon further reflection, I think I am just avoiding the social interaction by being busy in the kitchen, and trying to impress them with my cooking.  Such an ego-filling goal.  No wonder it leaves me feeling empty and incomplete (and depressed.)

I went back to taking my higher dose of hydroxyzine last night, so hopefully I will not be as tired from here on out and the depression will lift.  Time will tell.  I will continue to track it.

It feels good to have a clear picture of my mood shifts of late and the possible reasons for them.  I feel less like a victim to them when I understand the possible causes for them.  Writing about my life as often as I do here is the only way I could have gleaned the information I did to put the two and two together, so I am grateful to my doctor for inspiring me to do so.

I think the mood chart will be a good tool to print out and take to my next doctor visit.  Since I see her every six weeks, it will be a good snapshot to show her how things have been going for me since our last visit.

 

Stress Triggers Hypomania

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Something is not right.  I am obsessively working on projects.  When I do that I am either becoming hypomanic or overly anxious.  I sort of think I am dealing with a bit of hypomania because I can’t seem to keep my mind still and I feel like my cells are vibrating on some sort of low-level frequency.  I’ve also been seeing the world in techno-color, and I mean full-on mega saturation and contrast, damn near HDR quality, which I’ve been blaming on too much photo editing time on the computer, but now I am thinking maybe not.  Maybe hypomania is to blame.  Weird because I have never experienced this visual symptom before.  It is really freaky – almost like hallucinating.

I don’t like hypomania.  It makes me feel edgy and uncomfortable, like having an itch that I can’t scratch.  I want to nap, but I can’t.  I want to relax my muscles, but I can’t.  I think I will try some stretches.  Maybe some meditation.  It will be difficult since the end result will not be something tangible, something I can see, hold, touch, observe, like my photos, this blog post, the cookies I baked the other day, the new hairstyle I did yesterday, the pedicure I gave myself over the weekend, etc. etc.  So project oriented…good ol’ hypomania.

Funny thing is that just the other day I was writing my last post worrying about becoming depressed because of my prolonged anxiety.  It just goes to show you how unpredictable bipolar disorder really is, and how hellish it can be to have it.

On the up side, I know from experience these moods don’t last very long for me because I am what they call a rapid cycler.  This hypomania may last a few days or a week or two at the most.  What comes afterwards is anyone’s guess.  I’m bummed about that.

I am tired but wired; being pulled in opposite directions; literally bipolar.  Those of you who have it, too, please know you are not alone.  I feel your pain.

 

How Do I Get Rid of Negative Self Talk?

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This is what I really hate: talking about myself. I know, crazy, right? Why would I have a blog if I hate talking about myself? I started this blog as a private journal of sorts to keep track of my daughter’s progress with her mental illness and as a place to store my poetry, most of which is about mental illness. I have sprinkled in some entries about my own mental illness and medication woes, as well.

I think the web is a good place for me to do these things because I don’t run the risk of my children finding the things I write in a journal at home. I also like talking to like-minded people who blog and/or who are dealing with similar issues as me. I think we can learn from one another.

Up until this point, I have written sporadically and not very often on this blog. I would like this to change from here on out because my psychiatrist has given me a new goal: to work on becoming mindful of and decreasing my negative self talk. What an order!

Apparently she thinks it is one of the main causes of my mood instability. I am stable now. I was depressed last fall and definitely had stress and anxiety from external events with major negative self talk. I was stable this winter with external stress but less negative self talk, not due to any conscious effort on my part, but just because my daughter was in the depths of her depression at the time, and I needed to remain strong and positive for her. I was hypomanic in the spring and my daughter was doing better – good thoughts all around. Summer started with extremely high external stress and major negative and perfectionistic thinking on my part which resulted in much anxiety and a bad depressive episode.

I think she may be on to something here. External events that lead to negative and perfectionistic thinking cause anxiety and depression. But like when my daughter was sick, if I don’t go into the negative thinking pattern, I might not fall into a depression.

(Of course, I was smoking during that time too, and I swear smoking wards off depression for me. It’s a great stress reliever and it literally increases the dopamine in the brain. No joke, look it up! But, that’s not an option for me anymore, so I’ll leave it at that.)

My plan is to write here every day or so to keep track of my negative thoughts. I know in general I try to do everything perfectly. Laundry is never behind, house in never dirty, dishes are always done, dogs are always clean, landscaping is always pruned, closets are basically organized, etc. Wow! I didn’t realize how anal I am until I just wrote all of that out. I really need to chill.

I also get very upset with myself when I make mistakes. Like if a new recipe isn’t great and I know my family thinks so, too, I will feel guilty and tell myself I am a terrible cook. Or if I lose my temper with the kids, I cry behind closed doors and tell myself how horrible of a mom I am. Guilt and shame run through my veins a lot more than I would like. I suppose my goal is to decrease that. Eliminate it completely? I don’t know.

I think it is normal to feel guilty when I do something wrong like yell at someone who doesn’t deserve it. I think the shame is excessive. Shame is probably not good. I think it is probably not appropriate to feel guilty for cooking a sucky tasting meal for my family. I need to watch my self talk with situations like that.

When higher anxiety producing events occur, like having out of town company stay at my house, hosting parties, etc. I really must watch what I think to myself, because usually the house, food, etc. all have to be perfect. I drive myself quite mad during the week leading up to and crash the week after.

When I can’t do everything I want to do because of my illness, I tend to shame myself and feel guilty. When I fall short of being the perfect mom, wife, friend, or daughter I tend to shame myself. I don’t know why I have such high expectations of myself. Do I fear abandonment? Is it some deep seeded need for approval left over from my days of growing up in an alcoholic home? Is it the first child syndrome?

Does it really matter why? Probably not. I think the most important thing that matters is how to change it. I must be mindful enough to recognize when it is happening and skilled enough to change the conversation. What an order!

Rapid Cycling Nightmare

It has been two weeks since I went from taking the extra 10mg of Viibryd every day to taking it every other day, because I became hypomanic when taking it every day.  Unfortunately, my depression has now returned: uncontrollable crying spells, suicidal ideation, paralyzing anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.

Fortunately, I have been able to force myself to take care of most of my responsibilities with the house and kids. However, the stress of doing these things is most likely making me sicker.

I feel like I have no choice but to go on doing what I am doing and resting when I can. Although, my decision making abilities are kind of messed up. I was up at 4am this morning, ready to nap at 2pm after a stressful day of running errands with the kids, but changed my mind about the nap because I felt guilty for husband picking up the slack, then skipped a school meeting tonight to stay home and rest, but instead did strenuous yard work in the 90 degree Fahrenheit heat.

I worked in the yard to distract myself from all my anxious thoughts. Getting my hands dirty, digging in the soil, planting bushes, cleaning up yard waste, and sweating it out until my whole body ached really felt good.

I highly recommend getting your mind and body totally engrossed in something creative when you are struggling, if you can; gardening, painting, coloring, sewing, yoga, walking, music, dancing, singing, or anything to get yourself completely in the present moment and out of your thoughts of the past or worries about the future.

So, I’ve decided to start taking the extra Viibryd every night again even though it made me hypomanic. This depression is too scary and painful. I just can’t risk spiralling down. Anyone who’s been there before knows the horrible fear of not being able to come back out of it once you go down that deep, dark hole.

I will talk to my doctor about what else we can do to combat the hypomania. I am amazed at how sensitive my system is to the slightest dosage changes in medication.

Quick update on my daughter: She told her doctor this week that her anxiety is much better. Praise God! I am so thrilled. It’s been such a battle for her. I am extremely happy she is finally experiencing some peace of mind.

She starts her new school next week and she is very excited. I hope it is a positive experience for her.

I ‘m hoping when all my kids go back to school next week, my downtime gives me the rest I need to stabilize my mood. I’ve been cycling all summer, and it’s wearing me out.

How’s your summer going?