Sorry the blog is running a day late this week.
My friend Tammy wrote a book on depression and I wanted to get it, read it, and share the info with you all. I just got my hands on it yesterday, and I binge-read it. I’ll share more with you below.
This has been a roller-coaster week. My husband and I have still been feeling leftover mild effects from that bad cold we had. I still have the occasional cough, and he is still congested. It must be going around…as I talk with people all over the country, they’ve got either a bad cold or the flu. (It’s just now getting to be allergy season here, but that’s for another blog:)
My beautiful new blue and white quilt is going well. I cut up the fabric, sewed some blocks, pressed the seams and now have to cut the blocks up to make a pattern. I’m working on the cutting right now. But it is a very good sign that I am willing and interested in sewing again.
My biggest accomplishment of this past week is driving. I met a friend at the movies and drove both ways all alone. Yesterday, I drove to my psychiatrist’s office, off to a drug store, and then to a restaurant to meet with my friend the author. My husband was in the car during all this driving but he was on the phone for work. He said he felt perfectly safe and wasn’t nervous riding at all. Today I am going to meet a friend for that “Big Greek Wedding” movie. It starts at 4:40 so am a little nervous about it maybe getting dark when I get out. I haven’t really driven much at night. But that (and freeway driving) is a step I want to make.
My visit with my psychiatrist went well. He is very pleased with the Rexulti (other than the anxiety) and was pleased with my undepressed state.
I have been taking Klonopin as needed for quite a while now. Klonopin is a benzo, sort of a mild tranquilizer for anxiety or whatever. Of course, “mild” is a relative term. If you take a lot, it’ll knock you right out. Anyway, (as many of you know) benzos can be really addicting. So I have been careful to limit my usage. My doc and I decided to try to change over to another non-benzo med down the road. I’m going to keep taking .25 Klonopin four times per day to help with the Rexulti anxiety. 1.0 total is not a very high dose, so I should be able to get off of that fairly easily. He also reduced my Wellbutrin. He says the Wellbutrin and the Rexulti may be too “activating” together. I see him in a month.
Monday was the day from hell. I woke up and seemed fine but then started crying. Could not figure out why, just kept at it till about noon. Didn’t want to move or get dressed or anything. I really think it is swinging my brain chemicals around with these meds. Tuesday was a much better day. I was still fragile so I had a phone session with my therapist. I love her. I just click with her. We are working on my “having” bipolar as opposed to my “being” bipolar. She wants me to get that it is just part of me. I struggle because it feels like all I am is one great big bundle of mental illness. I didn’t go to my bipolar support group this week. Will hit it next time.
So over to this book my friend and her husband wrote. It is called “Out of Darkness into the Light” by Tammy and Rodney Buckallew. If you’ve ever wanted to know about the “feelings” of an everyday person with depression, I highly recommend it. More importantly, the section that her husband writes is mind-blowing. It’s hard when you’re the mentally ill person, to see it all from the spouse’s point of view. Rodney clarified and explained so much and I appreciated the honesty behind it all.
Tammy grew up in a fairly religious family and attended quite a bit of church. Unfortunately, it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Her parents did a lot of fighting and it was an abusive household. From what I read, Tammy seemed to get her mental illness sort of wrapped up in church terminology. She believed (or does believe) she has angels watching over her. A minister told her that her illness was possibly from hell or from demons. Believe me when I tell you this is not something you want to hear.
Tammy had her first episode at age 20 and has continued to have them every 6-7 years.She has only been hospitalized twice. I am not certain, but I think I have been hospitalized about five times, so she’s doing better than I did. My hospitalizations are about 5 years apart. It is sort of like clock work.
One difference in our illnesses. Tammy had visions of hurting others with knives. I’ve had no issues with wanting to harm others.
She had a desire to go the “natural” way and avoid medications. She got involved with a shaman who said he could heal her with energy and I don’t know what all. It cost about $2100 and it didn’t work out.
One comfort activity she used was walking. She and her husband would walk to get ice cream cones. She also liked to bathe and do visualizations during that time.
She is doing well right now and is on comparable medications to me. She can have a depressed affect, but that is Tammy. I’ve never seen her “bouncy” but I haven’t known her years and years so it is hard to tell.
There is so much more to this book and I am doing a very poor job of reviewing it.
The strongest part to me was the part her husband wrote. There were many things I identified with including huddling in corners, using the bedroom as a “safe” place and not wanting to come out, the hospital experience, losing friends, and wondering “what is my purpose in life”.
I really identified with losing friends. Some people just can’t hack it (or they choose not to). It takes great class and stamina to have a friend with a mental illness. One thing I have learned is NOT to count on friends during the bad times. You just work it out with your family and very special people. General friends are no good when you are sick. Some try to get it and they do, but can’t do it day to day.
So give this book a try if you can. I know you’ll get a lot out of it.