Daily Archives: February 7, 2014

Aislinn’s Story

Today we have the pleasure of meeting Aislinn, joining us from Dublin, Ireland. As has been evident from all the interviews, no matter where we live or what our ages, there’s a connecting thread in our stories and I’m sure you will identify with Aislinn in one way or another.

How long have you dealt with mental illness and what is your diagnosis?

A) I’m 24 now and I’ve dealt with mental illness from the age of about 14 (my second year of secondary school). Over the next 5 years of secondary school I felt my mood get lower and lower until I needed to do something about it in my last year of school at age 18. Things were up and down during college but relatively stable in comparison to school. Things got to an all time low at the end of 2012, beginning of 2013 after finishing college. 2013 was an excruciatingly hard time dealing with my depression but I didn’t want to just make it through the year- I wanted to come out the other end a much more happy and positive person. I successfully did that and now feel more happy and stable than I ever have in my life.

 Do you take medications to help you cope?
A) I took medication for one year in my last year in school as that was what I needed then. I didn’t want to take medication when I hit low after college because I felt I needed to really dig deep and find out what was causing this and that medication wouldn’t do that for me.
 what stay well strategies do you use?
A) I have so many! There was lots and lots of trial and error to find out what things would really help me stay feeling balanced or even in a great mood.
Gratitude has to be one of the biggest for sure. Whenever I feel a darkness coming over me I try to go for a walk and list at least 3 reasons why today is/can be a great day/what I’m grateful for. Another one is focusing on affirmations. As well as those I felt I really got better once I started putting my health first. When you’re treating your body with love and care then you feel so great and that always sets you up for a better day/week.
 
 do you feel your battle with mental illness has been a blessing or a curse and why?
A) I think so many parts of you wants to say the latter but I believe this has taught me more in life than anything else..so how could that be a curse? It has allowed me to find out things early on in my late teens that I feel a lot of people older have not yet figured out. It has made me appreciate happiness and really made me take care of myself and put myself first. 
I loved Aislinn’s policy of putting herself first. So many of us juggle so much and we forget we need to be pretty high on the priority list, too! I’d like to thank Aislinn for sharing her story and I hope this series of interviews is eye opening as far as the reality of people all over the world living with mental illness.

Filed under: Wellness Warriors Tagged: depression, life, medication, Mental Health

Writing Still But Not So Easy

It’s been almost a week since I’ve written a post, which is unusual for me. I’m currently dealing with some nerve damage that makes writing extremely difficult, and painful, to

The post Writing Still But Not So Easy appeared first on Depression and Bipolar Disorder:.

Land of the Bland


I have been such a slacker in the writing department lately.  I am having a hard time concentrating, and while most of the time I can piece together my thoughts better through written word than verbal, right now there seems to be no solid form of communication that I can make proper use of.  I have plenty of things I want to say and write about, but there’s a great chopping block in between my thoughts and their expression, and I am very sorry that I cannot do any better.  

I am experiencing what promises to be a long stretch of depression.  Yet, on the “bright” side of this darkness, it has, for the most part, been a functional misery.  I have been able to go about my duties as wife and mother, keep the house fairly clean, cook healthy meals, and even exercise every day (even with a screaming two year old clamped to my leg begging me to stop – built in weight training).  But I’m not finding joy in any of it, and that is a pity, because I know there is joy to be had, if only I could pry off these blinders. But all I see is work, work, work.  I am tired.  I want five minutes to myself.  I want someone to come take this burden from me for a short while so I can re-center.  But there’s no one to do that.  And when I ask for help and get shot down, it makes me feel even worse, so I’ve stopped asking.  Really, there’s no one to ask.  And even if there was, I don’t truly believe a babysitter or housekeeper would solve what’s wrong deep down inside of me.  

I am trying not to let my irritable, downright hateful view on things get in the way of the sunshiney mom I am supposed to be.  I am trying not to get annoyed by the little things.  I am trying not to break down crying every other hour of the day.  And I must be fooling everyone, or else they have their own set of blinders on.  No one seems to know how invisible I feel, how used up and broken and in need of something that I just can’t put my finger on. No one  sees me sinking further and further down.  If they did, they would do something, right?  

You’re Just Like Me: S.K. Nicholls

This week my guest blogger is S.K. Nicholls! She will be telling us about her experience with her mental illness

_______________________________________________________________________


So you have a mental illness.. Which one? 

Yes, bipolar and anxiety disorder, but I don’t see them as illness like a sickness. I look at it like wellness…illness continuum and I am either closer to wellness or closer to illness.

When were you diagnosis & how old were you? 

At 19 I had an acute psychotic episode, I was later diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, but that wasn’t right. About five years later, I was  diagnosed and placed on bipolar meds. They have really made a difference in my life. The first ones had side effects, but in 1996 they came out with some that did not

How do you cope with your mental illness?

I don’t think about it often. My husband is also. Sometimes when we overspend on something stupid we will call it a bipolar moment and laugh it off. I worked as a nurse for thirty years and finally could no longer take the stress, so now I am semi-retired and just work as needed doing health screenings. Being retired/disabled has given me the opportunity to do what I love, my passion is writing.

What are 3 words that you would describe how your illness makes you feel? 

I feel restrained by it sometimes, also tired, and lonely even when around people.

What are some ways you relax from your illness?

I take Ativan when I have an anxiety attack or can’t sleep. Good sleep is paramount to me feeling good the next day.

What is some advice you would give to your fellow soldiers fighting this fight?

Try not to take it too seriously. Do what you need to do, but lighten up and laugh when you need to laugh. One in four has something mental going on, so you are in good company.

Tell us your blog or how we can keep in contact with you:

http://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/

Fondly,

S.K. Nicholls

___________________________________________________________________________

Continue reading

The Struggle to Cope

I must have started writing this about 100 times.  There are so many ways to approach this topic, and how it makes me feel….how it makes others feel.  Is it possibly too painful?  Should I be safeguarding myself rather than bringing it to the forefront?  I recognize that this must be dealt with carefully and with respect.  I hope that once you have read this, you will feel that same way. 

 

That is how people who cut themselves need to be treated.  Carefully and with respect.  That isn’t to say that you should become an advocate for the behavior.  Just become an advocate for the person who carries that much pain and heartache. 

 

I vaguely remember when it all started back in my early 20’s.  I had no idea that there was anyone else out there that did the same thing.  I just knew I had to be a freak.  I didn’t want to die, but I was in so much pain, and somehow self-injury relieved that pain for me…..even if only for a brief period of time. 

 

It becomes addicting.  It’s a vicious cycle.  You cut yourself to express the only way you can that you are in pain, but you hide the behavior from anyone that might actually be able to help.  It took a couple of years before I was even able to go to my parents, and when I did they were so baffled and confused, they really had no words.  We all just knew I needed help in a hurry.  My body was covered in scars. 

 

Self-injury really isn’t the comical, circus freak way out of dealing with life that it has become to the general public.   Some of my favorite TV shows make a mockery out of it, and even though at this time, I am “clean”, it still gets to me.  I just have to shake it off, but it hurts to be made fun of.  Sometimes I will be at a store or a restaurant and I will see a teenage girl behind the cash register with scars on her arms, not that unlike my own.  I feel for her wholeheartedly, and I wish I could take her aside and tell her what she is getting herself into. 

 

If I had known anyone back when I started that had been through this hell, and they could have spoken to me about it, maybe it would have made a difference, I don’t know.  What I do know is that the behavior that you think is helping you out of your anxiety, depression, or sadness is only hurting you and everyone that loves you. 

 

When I think of the look in my husband’s eyes when he has seen what I have done, it hurts me deeply.  After having been hospitalized multiple times for such behavior, I know for a fact that it is NOT worth it. 

I needed to find effective coping skills for me, as you should for any dark period in your life.  Everyone will have different ways around it, some may seem silly and trivial, but I’ll take that over self-injury any day. 

 

I’m not perfect, there are still days where I have urges.  However, I feel like I am better suited to deal with those urges.  Not because of something a doctor said to me, or because one of my medications takes away the pain.  Quite frankly, NOT cutting myself is truly the only answer.  When I look back on the consequences of self-injury, that brief moment of time when I feel better just isn’t worth the risk in the long run.  Maybe it took this last hospitalization to realize it.  The sheer horror of that whole experience has definitely left a lasting impact on my way of thinking. 

 

One thing is clear.  You must believe in yourself, and your ability to cope with whatever you are facing, and know that you are coming out on the other side a stronger person.  Look back on your track record.  You’re still here, right?  Maybe a little beaten down….a little bruised, but here.  Nothing is going to change the fact that only the strong can survive what we have all had to endure.  Remember that, and know that self-injury is never the answer. 

Vitamin ‘Z’ To The Rescue!

What a difference a little tiny white pill and seven-and-a-half hours’ worth of quality sleep can make in a girl’s life……today, I felt almost normal again. Still didn’t have a lot of focus at work, but watching training videos is boring even under the best of circumstances, and between some residual instability and anxiety over the prospect of driving home in blowing snow, I wasn’t exactly into it.

What I am is a lot better. As much as I hate to take it, Zyprexa is a miracle in tablet form, and when I need it, it unfailingly comes to my rescue. And quickly, too—I can be manic as hell, and a couple doses of the stuff will bring me down in a matter of 36-48 hours. This time, I didn’t let things get so out of whack, and literally overnight I’m back in control of most of my faculties. Now how cool is THAT?

However, as with all psych meds, I have quite the love/hate relationship with Vitamin ‘Z’. This one is simply a little more intense, because Zyprexa is a hardcore antipsychotic medication and I’d like to think that someone with a polite little case of bipolar, like mine, doesn’t need anything so….well….serious. I am also loath to take it because it feels like a defeat to need another AP on top of the one I’m already on, on top of everything ELSE I’m taking.

Yeah, I know that’s silly—meds are a necessary evil, and crazy is not a competitive sport; every patient has to go with what works for them. And there’s no denying that Z works for me; I was on the drug for four months awhile back and had very stable moods throughout that time. I had to come off of it when I gained 25 pounds and my diabetes spun out of control; otherwise, I’d still be on it because it is the best drug for my manic and mixed episodes. It’s having to resort to it as an emergency med that bothers me.

You see, I have this ridiculous idea that my current medication regimen—which is not inconsequential—should be sufficient to keep me symptom-free almost all of the time. I’ve gotten spoiled over the last couple of months with the combination of my four drugs and my lifesaving sleep routine, but boy, take out one of those elements and all hell breaks loose. This time it wasn’t the meds that were wrong, it was three lousy nights’ sleep. So what happens when sleep goes sideways? I have to take more meds. Something seems a little unfair about that, but it is what it is.

Anyway, one more night of Vitamin Z and deep, restorative sleep ought to put things right again. Why, the only crazy thing I did all day was spend five hours on the freeway in conditions that might make even a Midwesterner say “Oh HELL no”. But then, in my case that’s not really crazy…..it’s determination. I’m not the pioneer type, but I am definitely a stubborn old woman—one who wants nothing more than to be at home sipping hot cocoa with her husband on this frigid, snowy evening.


Brain Hamsters, Stomach Badger

I’m sure you all are way too familiar with the brain hamsters – those little buggers who spin your wheels whenever you try to fall asleep. It’s not a new phenomenon, a new concept, or even a new name for it.

But now the brain hamsters have their very own song. My friend Leslie and I, plagued by the little rodents, used to end our phone conversations, “Death to hamsters!” This inspired our friend Tom to write a dotty little ditty on the subject. It has become a popular sing-along in certain circles – just imagine a room full of people all chorusing, “Death to hamsters!” It’s positively inspiring.

There is, however, another inner animal that has plagued me.

My last full-time job caused me a great deal of anxiety. Monumentally so. My boss left, and I felt I should tell my new boss about my depression (not diagnosed as bipolar yet). She said, “What does that mean?” Uh-oh. My stomach sank, and the badger moved in.

I missed a lot of time at work dealing with my mother’s failing health and finances, in addition to my own. She was blown over by a gust of wind, fell like a plank, and landed on her face. A neighbor sent her kid over: “Go see if she’s alive.” I had to have the you-can’t-live-alone talk with her. Find a nursing home. Figure out how to pay for it. Et cetera.

I could feel the stress in my stomach. A nasty badger, red in tooth and claw, growing daily, snarling more loudly, and threatening to claw its way out. Like that scene in Aliens, except an angry anxiety badger instead of a nameless whatever-that-was.

There was one good thing about the badger. Its presence alerted me that it was time to get the hell out. So I quit my job to go freelance. And it worked. For a while. I remember feeling happy, feeling free, as I drove on my errands and worked at my own pace and on my own schedule.

Of course it couldn’t last. The badger was only lying low, waiting for another round of minor and major disasters to resurrect it. And they came. My, how they came.

Then the badger won. My brain broke. I’ve been trying to piece it back together ever since. Thanks to my support system, my doctors and my medications, I am slowly doing so.

But the badger is waiting. I can feel it stirring, even now.

Death to badgers!

 

 


Sanity Challenged

I’m not crazy.

I am, however, sanity challenged.

Society has such a black and white view of what determines sanity and insanity. The court system is to blame. I watch way too much crime TV type shows to not see how asinine it is and what a disservice it is. Legally, you have to be naked and wearing a tinfoil hat while eating laundry soap on the main street to qualify as insane. But if you’re significant other pisses you off and you kill them it can be diminished capacity because it was a crime of passion.

Altered mental states are the same, as far as I am concerned. Only degrees differ.

Monday and Tuesday…I was walking a razor’s edge of nutsy kookoo.

Wednesday and Thursday…a winter storm dumped 8 inches of snow and sub zero temps and I am busting my butt to scoop the drive and take care of everything for myself because I don’t want to be dependent or need help. That sounds sane.

Tomorrow…consult the magic 8 ball, who knows where my brain will be.

It’s gotten so old. I haven’t showered in 2 days and it has NOTHING to do with laziness. Not sure it’s even depression. It’s the fact that I am constantly so cold I am physically shaking. My kid is fine so it can’t be the place is too cold. But something in me is not right, at all.

I’ve also been eating chocolate by the fistful, another thing that is NOT normal for me, at all.

I could use this post as a prime example to my shrink f just how unfocused and flaky my mind is at present time, but wait, I see a TV screen, not an actual doctor.

I do think on some level, against all the winter depression, the Viibryd is trying to work. I can feel these tiny surges every so often, like glimmers of hope. They don’t hang around but it does give me something to hold onto. It’s only been 3 weeks, but those twinges could mean it’s trying to work. I’ll see her Wednesday, see if my dose is maxed out.

Demmit, I am trying so bloody hard here.Trying to be a good mom, to take care of myself, my home, not rely on others, to manage my illness. At times I think I am doing ok. Other times the bad friends in my head tell me I should kill myself for being such an utter failure. (And my mom said my “fuck you” attitude would never come in handy,well, surprise, it truly does when rebelling against your mind and its sabotage.)

Oh.Mom.She had an MRI and they’re scared she has an aneurysm. I was apparently too detached and apathetic when she told me. I’d try to explain the Lithium apathy but then she;d just go off on me about blaming my own inadequacy on meds.  It’s not personal. My cat Azazel went missing months ago and it bothered me..but no one tear could be squeezed out. Lithium makes you feel so numb it’s like mental novacaine. That’s the good thing to quash the extreme highs and angers of bipolar.

Not so good when the people around you have something scary going on and they think you’re just insensitive. Bloody hell.

I keep telling myself a month max, one more month of this winter crap and then I should be free and clear, so one less thing to be bogged down by. Then I wonder…what if it doesn’t fix things? I know my patterns, but since my pregnancy altered my brain chemicals so much…the only constant is there is no constant. Nothing’s the same anymore. And it’s frustrating and maddening but you know what it is the most…

Scary.

I may be 41 and have a child and all of that…But I’m still a human being and not knowing my own mind anymore and living in such a state of neverending flux and terror…

is scary.

In this perfect world everyone else lives in I guess I could lean on family and friends.

In my world,no matter which parent or alleged person who cares I’d attempt to lean on..I’d just get told to suck it up.

So I self isolate and try harder and fight more and the bipolar coaster ride goes on.