Stress: Diet, Daughter, and Me

I’ve been on this Low Carb High Fat diet for a week now, and I was wrong about it being hard due to the fact that I am, or was, addicted to sugar. I have been functioning fine without it. My mood hasn’t even been affected by it. In fact, I don’t feel hungry hardly at all. I’m really quite surprised. My husband is doing it with me so that helps out a lot. I’ve already lost 4-5 pounds which is mostly water weight but still fun to see.

Anxiety is high today, coming off a busy weekend of sports tournaments and chores and a video project yesterday and all day today. I seem to be stressed or full of tension every Monday from the weekend. Sucks. 

Daughter’s fair, but too busy helping out with boys vball after school while doing her own. Wears her down, but she enjoys it. I’m trying to help her find balance. She is resistant to my suggestions. No big surprise there.  

I’ve decided to not coddle her as much, and instead treat her more like a teenager without a fragile mental illness. I think I’ve been too afraid to set as many boundaries as I’ve wanted to for fear of stressing her out too much. But, it seems like when I do, it always goes better than I anticipated. 

I’m tired and I can’t turn my brain down. Thoughts are swirling like a tornado. I will try some guided meditation and hopefully fall asleep for a nap.

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.

 

 

Migraine Depression

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As you can see from my recent poem post, I had an excruciating migraine yesterday.  It was so painful I had to fight suicidal urges.  I cried and sobbed at the hours they rob me of each day I have one.  I begged and screamed at a God, who won’t cure me of them.

I am feeling better today.  It is gone, but the fear of the next one is constantly there.  The increased dose of propranolol is causing me to get poor sleep which I think is what is triggering the migraines, which is ironic since the propranolol is what is supposed to be preventing them.

I have had more migraines than usual this month and the month’s not even over yet.  I am not sure whether to wait another ten days when the propranolol’s dose is increased again or call my doctor now.

I’ve read the sleep problems are temporary.  I have decided to cut my second Adderall dose from 10 mg to 5 mg to help me sleep.  I was going to cut out my daily nap as well, but I was so tired this morning that I already failed that goal.

I have been doing the breathing meditation my doctor recommended for at least ten minutes a day for the last five out of six days, and it has helped me feel calmer and more compassionate toward others.  That was a nice surprise.

Right now, I am just so traumatized by the migraine I had yesterday that I can’t seem to reach any sort of peace of mind.  I feel like my husband thinks I am nuts because I got so upset and emotional about it last night, but I am really becoming hopeless.

I am thankful that even though it feels like I am dying and even though I want to die, at least I am not dying.  That would not be a good thing for my family.  I know they need me and want me around.  It is why I am still here.

Photo credit: Avenue G via Foter.com / CC BY

Bipolar Anxiety and Anger: The Meditation Experiment Part I

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It’s funny how sometimes answers come to me before I even realize what the questions are.  Yesterday, I wrote about my bipolar anger, and later in the day, my doctor, without knowing I had a recent anger incident, strongly suggested I start doing ten minutes of meditation everyday, where I sit quietly and focus on my breathing.  She said, and I quote, “It will keep you calm the rest of your day.”

So, like always, I will try her suggestion.  I even began yesterday, setting a timer for ten minutes, laying down, closing my eyes; I focused on my breathing and…fell asleep.  Ooops!

Today, my plan is to sit up while doing it so I, hopefully, don’t fall asleep.  I will keep track of whether I think this is helping my anxiety and anger or not.

Me, the Bee, and the Art of Compromise

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I called the migraine doctor this week and come to find out that the doubled dosage I am on is NOT supposed to be helping my migraines yet, because he is still slowly titrating me up to a therapeutic dose.  Wow, I totally missed that supposed part of the conversation we had during our visit back in August.  Glad I didn’t keep waiting to see if the dose I was on would start working like I was considering doing.

On the up side, I have much hope again that soon I will be migraine-free or at least be suffering significantly less.  I have to stay on this new dose for four weeks before I can go up to the minimum therapeutic dose, and then we can still bump it up from there if need be.

I’ve been having these migraines for almost six years now and they have really ingrained a lot of fear in my life.  I’m afraid to do too much because stress is the biggest trigger for them.  I am also afraid to do too much because that triggers my anxiety.  My anxiety and migraines feed off of one another and sometimes I feel like they are the wardens of a prison I am living in.

There is a commercial I have seen on T.V. a few times that talks about the people who “have things” and the people who “do things.”  They show those who have things in these extravagant homes lying around by the pool, but bored out of their minds.  Then they show the “doers” having all types of adventures like water skiing, hiking, dancing, zip lining, winning at the casino, and having the time of their lives.  The advertiser obviously assumes that everyone would rather be a “doer,” but not me.

Because of the fear my anxiety and migraines create, I would rather be in the group that has things.  I would rather being at home where it is safe and quiet and familiar.  However, I do think my life would be more fulfilling and satisfying if I got out a bit more and took a few chances.  So, this week I went to a park by myself to do some mindfulness meditation like I talked about in a recent post.

I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the safety of my car, but I was glad to be out of the house and doing something new and different for a change.  I kept the doors locked and the windows just cracked because I am paranoid about people assaulting me or opening the door and stealing my purse or something crazy like that even though I was in a very safe area next to a police station even!  However, it was a beautiful day out and I kept thinking about how nice it would be and how much more I would be able to enjoy the sounds if I would just roll my windows down.

So, I faced my fears and put them down, the whole way.  Not even one minute later a bee started hovering outside of the passenger side window.  I quickly roll them back up and started laughing out loud, I’m sure looking silly to anyone who might have seen me.

Thinking of taking chances and being adventurous, I tried talking myself into rolling the windows back down and taking my chances with the bee.  What is the worst thing that can happen, I thought.  I get stung?  So what?  Then the catastrophizing started: What if I’ve developed a bee allergy in my adulthood and I get stung and go into anaphylactic shock right here in my car and die alone in this park?

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That decided it.  The windows stayed up.  I finished my meditation, then the bee and I went our separate ways.

Anyone without a mental illness can see by reading this, the mental struggle someone with an anxiety disorder goes through just to do something as simple as go to the park.  I had to talk myself into going, but kept myself locked in the car.  I talked myself into rolling down the windows, but quickly rolled them back up.  Simple tasks are not so simple when you have mental illness.

Overall, I am glad I went.  Going, but not getting out of the car, was a good compromise for me.  I try to do that when I am having trouble doing something because of my mental illnesses – compromise.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Balance is success.

Bipolar Moods Forever Changing

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A week ago I was hypomanic.  This week I am not.  I am not depressed either so yay for me.  Last week’s hypomania ended with migraines three days in a row.  After coming down from the agony of those and the depression the medication causes, along with the anxiety of my daughter’s homecoming-week events and a family get-together on Sunday, I spent Monday and Tuesday recuperating, had a horrible day yesterday (Wednesday) because I was in super-duper pain from doing aerobics for the first time in years on Tuesday plus I had another damn migraine.  Then something strange happened last night…

My migraine went away with just ibuprofen, which never happens.  (I always have to take an Imitrex for it, but I tried the ibuprofen instead because I needed it for my sore muscles.)  That wasn’t the strange part, however.

The strange part was when I took my daughter to volleyball practice.  It only lasts an hour so I stay there rather than drop her off and go home and come back.  Last night, I didn’t feel like sitting in the cold building on a hard chair and risk having to talk to anyone, so I stayed in my car, but rather than read the book I brought or mess around on my phone I relaxed back in my seat with my sunglasses on and lazily watched and listened to everything going on around me: people going in and out of the building, cars driving up and down the parking lot aisle, country music coming out of a truck that had its window down, a horn honking in the distance, a lady freshening her make-up in the visor mirror before getting out of her car.

I was very careful not to attach a story to any of these people or judge them in any way.  I only observed the facts like I just described them to you.  I did this for thirty full minutes before I started to become bored and lose focus, but let me tell you, I felt more relaxed than I have in ages.  I was almost anxiety free!

It was the best mindfulness meditation I have ever experienced.  In observing what was happening around and in front of me (without subjective thoughts, opinions, stories, judgements, etc.) I was able to eliminate any thoughts of “me” – what was going on with me, my worries, my mood, my feelings, my past, my future, my my my.  What a relief it was to leave me behind for a while!

I never realized how much I needed a break from myself.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in and obsessed over how I’m handing things and what my mood is like – am I depressed?  am I anxious?  why am I anxious?  am I manic?  – that I think I begin to go crazy over being crazy.

It just felt really good to be free from all of that for a little bit.  It felt like the shackles were released.  The feeling has carried over some into today, thankfully.

I’ve tried this type of meditation at home and it has not worked so well, maybe because there is no activity to observe here when I am home alone, and when I am not alone I cannot passively observe because my family engages me into the activity.

So, I am thinking I will have to go somewhere to experience this again; to a park or mall or somewhere where I can sit alone and people watch.  Or maybe animal watch – a dog park might be good.  There’s even one near my home.

Regarding my migraines, my doctor doubled the dose of the preventative medicine I am on five weeks ago, but it hasn’t had any affect on the frequency of my migraines.  I have been debating on whether or not to give the higher dosage another month to work before calling my doctor and telling him it’s not working, and then I thought, “What the heck do I know?”  So, I’m calling him today to ask if I should give it another month to work or what we should do.

What to Do When Thoughts and Feelings are Jumbled

alone-513525__180My mind is all over the place this morning.  I get into the groove of wanting to write something educational for you all because I do write mental health articles for other websites, and I am just not used to writing so much about myself personally.  It really takes a lot of effort to reflect on what is going on inside of my head and how I am feeling.  When I sit to do so, I often feel nothing and then things turn panicky because I get scared of the “nothing” feeling.

When I think about my thoughts, they are either blank or seem to be hiding behind walls in my head.  What is that all about?  I surely don’t know.  I suppose meditation could help me get in touch with more of these thoughts and feelings.  I meditate sporadically, often looking up 10-20 minute sessions on YouTube.  I can’t sit through anything longer than that without getting restless and bored.  This probably means something.  I wish I had a therapist who could give me feedback on it.  Does anyone out there have any thoughts on it, or has experienced it and knows why?

I bet a therapist could give me feedback on a lot of things.  You know who gives me good feedback?  My husband and a few select friends.  I have a small faith group that meets a few times a month and we share about real stuff and give each other honest, loving feedback.  Talking and listening is truly one of the best ways for me to “unjumble” my thoughts and feelings.

Another way  I get things out is to write about them, which is why I started journalling on this blog.  So, write I will….

My daughter is doing great at her new school.  Her anxiety is under control and she has adjusted well to the new environment, which is so much better than her old school.  She feels comfortable and safe and happy.  I feel relieved and grateful, and so happy for her.  I want high school to be a positive, fun experience for her, not a nightmarish hell.  Prayers have definitely been answered.

High school was pretty much a nightmare for me because I had undiagnosed depression and probably the beginnings of bipolar disorder as well as alcoholism.  I also lived in a home with active alcoholic parents.  It was tough.  I am glad I am in recovery now, being treated for mental illness, and providing my children with a much better childhood than the one I had.

One of the things I love about being stable is that I feel like doing my hobbies – photography and writing.  I enjoy them so much and feel so fulfilled by doing them.  It is so disheartening when my mood takes a dip, as it always does with the bipolar disorder, and I don’t have the energy or motivation to do them anymore.

The writing especially goes by the wayside.  The words just don’t come….at all, which sucks because it makes keeping up a blog a bit challenging.  My hope is to make connections here that are consistent and lasting.  So, feel free to comment and I will always reply and check out your blog as well.

I am scanning my brain trying to think of any house chores that need to be done, but there are none.  It is the perfectionist in me who is acting up.  I need to learn to let things go a little.  Although, some of it may have to do with needing something to fill up my time.

I am thinking about looking for a job as a photography assistant.  Not sure if there is anything like that out there, but I won’t know if I don’t look.  Hopefully, by working on my negative judgements like my psychiatrist asked me to, I will be able to maintain a stable mood longer than I usually do and be able to possibly do something crazy like work a little part-time job.  Wouldn’t that be amazing, considering I haven’t been able to work in seven years?

Hope you’re having a nice day.  More soon…