She Did Better Today

Because we compromised. She took a psuedo anti-anxiety pill (an antihistamine prescribed for her anxiety) which enabled her to sit with our company most of the morning. Then I allowed her to go out with friends for a few hours.

I also caught myself babying her like I normally do when she is anxious or depressed, and the last time she had a depressive episode she told us she hated it. She said it made her not want to tell us what is going on because then we treat her different and she can’t stand it. 

Thank God I realized it because I don’t think she was going to say anything to me. She was just getting more and more agitated and I couldn’t understand why until I remembered. 

I said, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I’m treating you like baby. I forgot. I’ll stop.”

I saw instant relief come across her face. I’ll have to tell her to just say something to me next time. Those motherly, nurturing instincts are hard to fight. They just kick in automatically before I realize what I am doing. (Sigh).  

I think a lot of it has to do with my tone of voice.  I’ll talk to her like she’s fragile and has special privileges. I think it makes her feel uncomfortable because she has low self esteem and probably thinks she doesn’t deserve it.

Or maybe she doesn’t like it because she is strong willed and doesn’t like to feel weak, and me talking sickeningly gentle to her makes her feel that way. 

Or maybe she just wants to be treated the same so as to continue to feel as normal as possible when her mental health is anything but.

I know one thing and that is it is counterproductive for me to sit here and assume possible motives for why she doesn’t want me to treat her different when she’s depressed or anxious, so I guess I’ll stop trying to figure it out.

Anyway, she did say at one point that she doesn’t like it because it makes her feel like a baby. I suppose that reason makes sense enough.

Yet, all I want to do is give her a big ol’ hug, tear up and say, “But you are my baby!”

Medication Increase Helping and Daughter Update

I think the increase from 30-40mg of Viibryd two weeks ago is helping me cope better with stress. I seem to still feel the stress and the anger and sadness but I don’t feel the need to act on it in negative ways anymore.

I am able to handle it calmly and with purpose and deliberate actions, like setting boundaries and practicing breathing meditation or simply not engaging.  I have not been perfect by any means. Passive aggressiveness has occurred. Some crying over little things. But, overall some good changes. 

My daughter’s depression has let up these last few weeks. We think because the weather has gotten warmer. She really is affected by it. Four weeks of depression from cold dreary winter days.  And now two weeks of mild weather and all better. Amazing!

We have a house full of overnight guests and she is not doing well. Her anxiety is high and it is hard for me to handle, because my own is elevated.

So, dealing with her tears and her wanting to leave the house, which I won’t let her do because I think it’s rude to go out with friends when we have company, while dealing with all the stimuli of the company myself, is pushing me to my limits.

I’m not taking it out on her by using everything I’ve got in me. I didn’t take an anti-anxiety pill tonight. I definitely will tomorrow. I know it will help.  I wish she could take one, too, but they don’t prescribe them for kids. 

Aftermath

The tournament weekend went really well for me.  I stayed in the room Friday night and rested. Socialized Saturday and Sunday.  Handled the convention center crowds like a normal person without the need for a Ativan all weekend until the last morning when we had to pack up and check out before the last day of play. Irritability and agitation set in out of the blue and came on so fast. Luckily the med works quickly to calm my system down. 

Not surprisingly, I had a severe migraine the day after we got back (yesterday).  Today I still feel worn down and depressed. Little things, like showering, unloading the dishwasher, and sweeping the floor, feel like big things. 

This is my third migraine so far this month. I had two in November and three in December. Better than six or eight like I was averaging for the last year. I hope I am done for the month so I can report 2-3 to my doctor and see where he thinks we can go from here; if he even thinks zero is a realistic goal. 

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.

Choosing Wisely When You Have a Mental Illness

woman-72111_640

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?

 

 

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.

 

Me, the Bee, and the Art of Compromise

bee-160732_640

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?

anxiety-girl

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.