Monthly Archives: January 2017

Depression – “It Was A Sunny Day”

I love Paul Simon’s music. While this particular song has no connection to what I am going to be talking about, the title is a great way to start. Today is a nice sunny day. It is still a little … Continue reading

“Just Say No.”

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Just.  Say.  No.

What couldn’t we do, if we could 

just

Close the door

Turn the page

Start over

No thanks

Don’t want

Done.  With.  That!

Like yesterday, for instance, when the Physical Therapy Assistant insisted that I lie on my back, with a hard piece of half-round foam running the length of my spine.  The idea is to open up my shoulders, which I’ve been guarding because of impingement syndrome.

I’m enthusiastic about getting more function.  I clambered onto the torture platform and lay down on top of the foam thing, expecting to open up and bliss out.

Except that didn’t happen, because the foam thing is hard as a rock.  I wiggled and squirmed trying to find the comfy spot.  There wasn’t any.  It pressed on my tender sacrum and my tender thoracic spine.

“Straighten your spine out!” The Assistant barked. That did it.

“I cannot straighten my spine because my spine…is…not…STRAIGHT!”  

Now other patients in the Physical Therapy room were interested.  A drama!

At a word from the head Physical Therapist, the assistant backed off.  After I had descended from the platform, she led me to a doorway (common PT tool, available to most people who don’t live in a van).  There she demonstrated a doorway-assisted stretch that I hope to be able to do one day, but not when I have recently fallen and can barely move at all.  Nope.  Not doing that.

“What do you MEAN, you’re not doing that?” She screeches, drawing further attention from the Peanut Gallery.

“Just what I said.  What else have you got for me?”

She crosses her arms.  Oh brother.  I’m waiting for the PT Get Tough lecture, but her boss shuts her up in time.

Now she wants to do something with my neck muscles.

“Neck is off limits.  No discussion.”

Too bad my aim was not to give this person an apoplectic fit.  If I had meant to do it, it would have been a tremendous success.  But that was not my aim.

I’m really not in bad shape at all.  Just banged up a bit.  Actually, when I think about it, most of my biffs and bangs were acquired doing things I love to do: occupational injuries due to the business of life, with a large overlay of genetic vulnerabilities.

I can’t say No to my genes.  But I can certainly say No to anyone who doesn’t listen to my concerns, who seeks to intimidate me, to use their position of petty power to try to overrule my ownership of my own person.

“But it’s for your own good!”

Maybe.  

On the other hand, what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander, and so on.

I’m not just “a shoulder.”

I’m a person who has lost 2 1/2″ of height over the past two years.  That’s because my spine is kind of disintegrating.  It’s getting a bit pretzel-y.  My years of spine PT are over.  So nope, PT assistant does not get to mess with my neck muscles.

We ended up with simply repeating the exercises the Head Trainer had given me last week.  Whatever.

As I write this I’m thinking about a friend who is very ill.  She’s enduring incredible invasions of her privacy, has lost every vestige of personal space.  People bossing her around from every possible angle.

She can’t “Just say no.”  She can’t Just get up and walk away.

This has to be the hardest thing: to not have the option to Just.  Say.  No.


Courageous Firefighters Save an Adorable Puppy and the Story of her Remarkable Recovery | Animal Hospital of North Asheville (AHNA)

http://www.ahna.net/blog/courageous-firefighters-save-adorable-puppy-and-story-her-remarkable-recovery?utm_source=January+2017+Newsletter+&utm_campaign=General+Jan+News+2017&utm_medium=email


Music Monday – “I Hope You Dance”

I know for most of you, it is already Tuesday but I still have two hours so I am slipping this in under the wire! I just felt like sharing this song with you. It is one that my Hubby … Continue reading

Bell Let’s Talk Wrap-up

The is very late in coming because I was working on a product review deadline and battling a few health issues. The Bell Let’s Talk initiative is based on awareness of mental illness and erasing the stigma surrounding it. Bell … Continue reading

First aid but not as you know it: 6 simple ways to support someone with mental health

First aid but not as you know it: 6 simple ways to support someone with mental health

person with mental health bandaged up
(Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

When it comes to first aid, most of us can apply a plaster or a bandage.

Those of us who’ve been on a first aid course can also put a sling on and even treat someone who’s choking, having an anaphylactic reaction or has fainted.

Within the work place, we’re even now trained to deliver CPR and use a defibrillator to manage life-threatening conditions.

But how many of us would know what to do if a colleague, friend or relative suffered a mental health crisis?

Some mental health conditions can stay completely hidden and go untreated.

And if you noticed someone behaving out of character, which could be a sign that they are developing a mental health condition, what could you do?

Here are six simple ways you could support them.

1. Start a conversation

Start informally by asking someone how they are, make it sound as though you’re really interested in knowing if they are OK.

If necessary, make sure you find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.

(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler)
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

2. Don’t make glib remarks

It’s surprising how many people think it’s helpful to say ‘pull yourself together’.

Would you say ‘just walk it off’ to someone with a broken leg?

Telling someone to ‘cheer up’ isn’t helpful either.

If someone is opening up to you, take them seriously, try to understand and empathise.

3. Really listen

You will gather a lot from not only what the person is saying but how they’re saying it.

Try not to judge them for saying things that (to you) sound irrational – this is a common symptom and a helpful sign that should not be brushed off.

Try not to offer solutions too quickly. Instead, ensure they feel heard and ask them what they think they need.

woman talking about her depression (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

4. Dealing with any practical issues

A mental health crisis can be made worse by concerns about everyday matters such as paying bills, feeding pets or even cooking food.

Ask if there’s anything of this nature you can support them with.

5. Offer support

It is important if someone is experiencing mental health difficulties that they first see their GP – this can be extremely daunting.

Perhaps you could offer to go with them.

In a severe crisis of mania, psychosis or other extreme distress, the person may need emergency care in A&E, the NHS non-emergency number 111 is a good port of call if you’re unsure.

METRO GRAPHICS
(Picture: Myles Goode)

6. Keep the conversation going

Make sure the person knows you’ll continue to be there for them.

Even if they get help from professionals, it will always be helpful to have another person they know they can turn to.

The understanding that mental health first aid is as vital as physical first aid is growing.

Prime Minister Theresa May is looking at offering every secondary school in the country mental health first aid training and developing new partnership with employers.

This cannot happen soon enough.


Nonfiction Workshop

Today I hate nonfiction workshop.  Because it means everything I read written by students is true.  I suppose someone could make something up, but why?  Why when we are bound by something that goes beyond and is more than confidence?  I thought I had stories to tell. This is all too shocking for me–I don’t know how to respond.  But I have to, with 500 words of commentary.   Why, oh why am I subjecting myself to this kind of thing?  And it’s the first workshop essay of the semester.  What is left to tell?

I’ve had kind of a mixed day already.  I didn’t work out–I couldn’t make myself go out in the cold and do it; I slept  in and just was lazy.   SO I don’t feel good about that.  But I can try to salvage the rest of the day.   Pray that I do what I am supposed to do and that I can handle myself properly.

 


Routines

Tues:

So I thought I might write a little about my routine(s) when I am feeling well, just in case anyone could benefit from some ideas.

I use a lot of apps on my phone to help me. Some of these cost a little money, but maybe you can find similar ones that are free. The overall one I use to keep on target is called “Balanced”. It lists all the things I want to do and how often. Then it rotates them through.

So every day (when I am feeling well) I do the following: make our bed, do a devotional (I use “Jesus Calling”), brush and floss, take meds, cleanse face, meditate for ten minutes (I use “Calm” and love it), clean the litter boxes if needed, drive/ ride in a car, think of three things I am thankful for, track my mood in an app called “Moodtracker”, drink some water, and write on this blog. It sounds like a lot, but I get into a routine and it works pretty well.

For exercise, I am supposed to walk three times a week and go to two yoga classes. (I am not getting this done…only about half.)

Every week I:go to bipolar group, go to women’s support group, call my support friend, plan an outing with a friend, use a facial mask or something like that, and go to church.

Every two weeks I see the diet doctor. I also see my two therapists and psychiatrist anywhere from once a week to once every three months, depending on need.

I am supposed to get a massage once a month. Don’t always do this.

I listen to an audio book three times a week. I am currently “reading” The Center Will Not Hold, a book about a woman with schizophrenia.

I also am supposed to have an “adventure” with my husband once a month. This could be a long hike,  an auction, a trip out of town, etc. It could even just be a date night.

Showering: I shower and wash my hair about every other day. Laundry once a week.

Friends: I have a list of friends and I rotate through them to do stuff or keep in touch. A couple are “text” friends, but most are in person friends. I try to contact or see everyone once a month. It sounds like a lot, but a contact might just be a “hi, how are you?” text.

This all probably sounds exhausting, but other than the exercise, I am holding on pretty well. I selected most of these activities because they are supposed to keep bipolar at bay and help you feel better. If any of you have read or heard of any other things to be doing, let me know! I’ll try to add it in. I know I should be doing something crafty, but I am sick of quilting and have no other craft talents.

Wed:

A quiet day. My daughter has been depressed and just got started on Seroquel. She was dizzy, so we all switched beds and I slept with her to keep her company. She had a good night.

It’s super cold here this morning and everyone is sleeping in late.

I don’t have a big day today…seeing a friend for lunch and an errand. It’s a good thing as Danny’s power steering is out and we’ve had to shuffle cars. I’m always at the bottom of the car pile.

We went out last night for dinner at a fairly expensive Mexican restaurant. The food and service were both horrible! Not sure how places like that stay in business.

I feel okay today…just a bit stressed. But what else is new? And I am hungry. I keep trying to stay on the liquid diet but it is hard. I need to focus. I did take a walk yesterday afternoon so that was good.

UPDATE:

So I think my husband has hit a wall. Between my bipolar, my daughter’s bipolar meltdown, and Danny’s depression, I think he is overwhelmed. I have only seen him this way once before. He just said this morning he was done dealing with it for now. I totally understand.

Thurs:

So my daughter is doing better in my opinion. She still says she feels really bad, which may be true, but she seems much more animated and chatty. She is going to take a week off of school and see if she can go back to work.

Saw my CBT therapist today. She is so good. She just helps with everything and keeps my mind organized. I drove my daughter’s car today, which was an unfamiliar car and therefore, a challenge. But I did it.

Husband is also better today. He bounces back fast.

Fri:

I am shaky as I write this. I drove this morning to breakfast with a friend and then on to a store and back home again. I did fine, but came home and started shaking.

I did go to yoga yesterday and am having a friend come over tomorrow to take a walk. I also have a phone call appointment with my “regular” therapist today. My husband is out of town for work, so I am left to my own devices.

My daughter is doing a bit better. Saw her doctor yesterday. She increased her lithium and decreased her Seroquel. She is resting quite a bit, which is fine. She is set to take a leave from work if needed, but she has a lot of sick time, etc. to also use. My CBT therapist and husband agree I really need to do a lot of self-care so I don’t crash when this crisis is over. I am staying on track as best I can.

This sounds lame, but I am not very pleased with my hair. I think the cut makes me look ugly. I think if I took more time with it, it could look decent. I also need to focus on losing weight. I look okay in the clothes I have and am not self-conscious, but I know I’d look and feel better if I got some more weight off.

Sat:

Woke up at 4 with a lot of stomach and intestinal pain. Am miserable. Took a Klonopin to see if it would relax everything. No luck so far.

So far am just working through my routine stuff and doing some laundry for Danny. Daughter just got up and seems to feel decent. Husband off to coin show. I envy him. He seems to feel good both mentally and physically just about every day.

Maybe today will be just a rest day for me. We have a meeting tomorrow after church service so we’ll be at church quite a while.

UPDATE:

Forgot my husband’s best friend (and his girlfriend) from out of state are here. I said I would go have dinner with them. I could cancel because of my tummy, but I am determined not to. I want to make my husband happy by going. I just took a shower so I will be ready for tonight’s dinner and also for church tomorrow.

Daughter does NOT want to go back to work. If you mention anything about work, she throws a fit and is rude. She has 12 weeks of paid leave with insurance, but this is only for this calendar year (2017). So I encouraged her to use it wisely since she could need more in the fall, etc.

The problem with her not working is pretty straightforward…money. We can afford to support her but we don’t want to. She has a car payment, phone bill, small credit card bill, and she is paying us $300/ month in rent. Fortunately she has no student loans or other debt.

Not only the money but what does she plan to do around here for her “off” time? She’s not exactly helpful around the house.

I think she must be feeling somewhat better. She went out yesterday with a girlfriend to happy hour (but did not drink because of her meds). Then later that night she went and had coffee with another friend. She seems more animated and is cleaning her room, etc.

She’s only been off work a week, so maybe I am overreacting. I just hope her meds totally kick in and she gets back to work soon.

Hey, good news! Danny is “considering” the Lexapro. We all keep gently reminding him and I think there is hope.

Sun:

Slept well and just had a bit of tummy pain. We have a really long day at church this morning. Service, then a meeting, then visiting my uncle at the nursing home. I talked to my husband early this morning and we agreed I’d stay home to keep my daughter company while he went to all this. She still gets upset and I hate to leave her alone too long.

You might remember my CBT therapist and I developed a scale of 0-10 driving activities. 0 is the easiest and 10 is the worst. I am working on level 3. I need to drive to bipolar group and therapist alone and back up out of parking. Also driving behind buses. (For some reason, I panic behind a bus when I have to get around it.)

Mon:

Assorted kid crises getting to me, but I am using CBT techniques and they are helping. Need to go to the diet doctor today and also to my women’s group.

Danny’s car is not doing too well. It has 160K miles on it. It was my mother’s car and was used when she bought it. Anyway, we think another few months and it will be kaput. So tomorrow we are going to look at new cars. Husband is looking for a small SUV. Then Danny gets the Prius. It makes me sad as we have had that Prius 8 years and it is in immaculate shape. I know he will just trash it up.

A negative of all this car trouble is that I won’t get my new counter tops for a while. We were basically all set to get them but now my husband won’t make two big purchases at once. So I’ll be sitting with the old ones for a while. The old ones are fine, but the new ones sure looked nice.

I am feeling decent today considering all the drama going on. I seriously think if we could get the kids under control I’d even feel mildly elevated. I need to keep working on that CBT.

love to all of you,

lily

And Today’s Bipolar Extreme Is…

Me, being awake and sitting up, at 5:30 in the morning. I actually woke almost an hour ago but I attempted to go back to sleep. After least week’s involuntary somnolence, I didn’t think it’d be an issue. Ha. Bipolar throws another curveball embedded with rusty nails.

It may anxiety because I have a shrink appt today and I have to pick my kid up early just to make sure I can make the appt and not have to sweat them running behind so I can’t pick her up. (Yeah, I have family who probably might do it, but they aren’t very reliable and are always busy so why bother.)

Other anxiety includes my kid having a running nose (snot nosed brat, ha ha.) I pretty sure it’s a garden variety cold because I gave her allergy pills and it didn’t help. Of course, my mother went off, in front of Spook, about how “you need to get that kid to a doctor, her nose is running and she’s coughing, she must be allergic to your cats.” Grandma drama llama set off my baby  drama llama. Now following a shower last night Spook was howling in ear pain. Could be an ear infection coming on. Could be water trapped in her ear. Could be a number of things and my batshit mother has the child convinced I am neglectful if I don’t take her to the ER for every hangnail. Until Friday, Spook’s nose hadn’t even been running so we’re not talking some long going illness I’ve ignored.

How my mother didn’t psychologically cripple me is a miracle because she truly is nuts and hell bent on passing it on.

The weekend wasn’t bad. Not much human interaction required or dishes into the trip so that is always good. Of course, my dad had to stop by and bring me rules of the road book to remind me my kid still needs her booster seat  by law (ffs, she’s 4 feet tall, 62 lbs, and will turn 8 in 7 months, get over yourself.) Well, that set Spook into a stratospheric tantrum for an hour and a half. I had to listen to her bawl, wail, punch and kick walls and yell I SHOULD JUST DIE. Yes. Over a booster seat.

Yesterday’s drama was me asking her to put one basket of her laundry away after I’d folded six baskets. No, it was too hard. No, she doesn’t know where things go. (I pop quizzed her which drawer was for what, and ha, she aced it, so don’t play me, child.) She cried. She said she hated her life. I am mean.

I don’t really get how I have beyond a trait or two of borderline because all this drama makes me a nervous wreck and more depressed rather than giving me any kind of validation.

Oh, guess what. My nose is running too, I must have ebolaswinepox, best airlift me to Mayo clinic.

Now that you’ve had your morning dose of snarkasm…

I hope I can nap after I get her to school but I doubt it cos the appointment anxiety and I really don’t wanna extra medicate just to zonk myself out. Why can’t sleep come quickly and naturally? It never really has for me, even as a ten year old I’d be in bed awake an hour after lights out, counting numbers, silently singing songs in my head, making up stories. Anything to keep my mind occupied. Out of the dark zone, out of the anxiety inducing zone.

All I’ve heard lately is about attacking the underlying cause of anxiety, that will fix it. IF I KNEW, I’d Z whack it myself. That’s kind of the point of a disorder is you don’t know why you have the symptoms because it’s so often random and extreme. Saturday we braved the huge grocery store (would Aldi renovate already and reopen???) and I wasn’t too freaked. Yesterday we went to our normal small convenience store and seven people were in line and I started to get paranoid and panicky. WTF?

If it’s never the same trigger…How do I get to the underlying cause?

And this dialectal therapy the shrink mentioned…I am skeptical. It basically sounds like a self pep talk you brainwash yourself into. I can live in the moment, I can ask myself what the bigger picture is, blah blah blah…It doesn’t change whatever whacked out brain chemical imbalance is going to stab me in the back next.

Maybe I sound treatment resistant. I don’t think so. I’m willing to entertain the magnets, even shock. But talking talking talking, while may make me feel better (ya know, kinda like taking a poop)…I am still bipolar, still depressed, still anxious, still not sleeping properly.

Let’s talk about 20 years of THAT, professionals.

Okay,back to my courtship of the tissue box and binge watching Medium. I have had too much reality, the paranormal is just what I need to draw my attention away from my scumbag brain.

Which I am pretty sure is the reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade to have me awake at this ungodly hour. Sadistic son of a  bitch.


Parts of My Life I Miss the Most

Last month I wrote about how bipolar disorder had cost me – well, not the ability – but the capacity to read (http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-qp). I am intensely thankful that the concentration, focus, and motivation to read have returned as my healing has progressed.

But there are some other things that are missing from my life that I wish desperately that I could get back. Or wish I had never lost in the first place. (Depression is very much with me right now, so forgive me if I dwell in the past with my failures a bit.)

First are friends. I’ve written about this before too (http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-2W), but the subject was brought home to me recently when I received a fuck-off letter from a former friend I was trying to reach out to, in hopes of reestablishing the relationship. One of her main reasons for cutting me off was that every time we went out, she felt it was “her and me and my misery.”

She did acknowledge that at times our friendship had been burdened by her misery too, but evidently that either didn’t count as much, or else mine lasted too long. (If it was too long for her, it was even longer for me.) I am very disappointed that, now that my “black dog” is smaller and on a leash, she found other reasons not to associate with me. To make it more ironic, she has been a therapist and now teaches psychology.

I also miss having a steady paycheck. My last 9-5 office job was over ten years ago, and since then my mental state has not allowed me to get and keep another such position. The security of knowing how much money I would have every month allowed me to plan.

And to travel. I really miss traveling. Admittedly, part of my inability to travel now is determined by my physical health. But my anxiety would make it just that much more difficult. Now I can barely get away for a weekend, and even then I must carefully monitor my moods, limit my activities, track my eating and sleeping, and avoid crowds.

One of my deepest regrets is that when I was undiagnosed and untreated, I couldn’t fulfill my potential. I attended an Ivy League university, but I can’t say I got out of it what I could or should have. I feel now that I skated by, impeded by many depressive spells, lack of focus and concentration, and confusion. I even took a year off to get my head together, but since that didn’t include getting help for my bipolar disorder, its value was questionable.

Lest this seem like nothing but whining (which my depression is telling is what it is), there are also some things that bipolar disorder has taken from me that I don’t miss at all.

Oddly, one of them is a 9-5 office job. While I do miss the steady paycheck, I absolutely don’t miss the things that came with it. Now, doing freelance work, I can fit my work around the things I need to do (like seeing my therapist) and the things I have to do (like slowing down when depression hits). I don’t have to get up at the same time every day and dress appropriately (if at all) and try to fit in and socialize with my co-workers. That was never easy for me and became nearly impossible after my big meltdown.

And, as much as I miss travel, I don’t miss business travel. Again, being “on” all the time, for days at a time, with no time or place to decompress, would be impossible now. Since we usually had to share hotel rooms, there wasn’t even a chance for any alone time, which I need a fair amount of. I could never get the hang of “team eating” either.

Finally, I don’t miss the boyfriend who took an already broken me and broke me worse. (I wrote about him in my post about gaslighting http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-pm.) My self-esteem was not great before the relationship, but afterward it went into negative numbers. Self-harm, self-medication, self-doubt, and negative self-talk were what I had instead. But Rex didn’t do it alone. He had my bipolar disorder there to reinforce his words and actions. And to not let me see what was happening.

Bipolar disorder is a balancing act, in more ways than one. It takes away good things from our lives. But my therapist reminds me that it also gives an opportunity – as I rebuild my life, I can choose which pieces I want to reclaim and which I want to discard. And the parts I can rebuild are what I should concentrate on.

And I will, once this spell of depression releases me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: acting "normal", anxiety, bipolar disorder, business meetings, depression, freelance work, friends, mental health, my experiences, psychotherapy, social skills, travel, working at home