Daily Archives: March 3, 2018

10 Ways to ‘Reach Out’ When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health

After my friend's suicide, I realized something: We ask people to reach out. But we never explain how.

Cycling While Stable

I wrote a blog post last November on my 67th birthday about how I thought I was doing much better since I’ve been on a mood stabilzer that actually works. It’s been about a year now that I’ve felt this relative stability, but lately I’ve been looking back at my behavior over the last few months and I realize that I’ve actually been cycling thru hypomania and depression quite a bit more than I realized at the time. Impulsivity is the biggest and most problematic issue for me. But obsessive thinking is a close second. The two go together for me too often and I make a fool of myself in situations where I should know better.

Over spending is another one that’s gotten me lately. Impulsive again, and obsessive. These are all symptoms of Bipolar illness and apparently I’ve been experiencing them frequently. I didn’t really see what I was doing at the time but at some point I realized it and I stopped it, or tried to. But I still act too impulsively and without proper forethought. It drives me crazy and embarrasses the hell out of me. I say things or write things in emails that are out of line with my sense of self, and I portray myself in ways I’d rather not. I can’t seem to stop blurting things out that make me look and feel stupid, both in print and in interactions in real life. I attribute this mostly to the hypomania but I see there’s a clear element of depression in there too.

I guess I’m in a mild mixed state, where I experience both the highs and the lows that are the hallmarks of manic depression. I go there when I see the effects of my hypomania and it upsets me, so I get depressed. Then I feel better and act out stupidly again. Then I get depressed. Then…. You get it… It’s a vicious cycle. I have a diagnosis of Dysthymia as well as Bipolar type 1 and PTSD. Dysthymia is a constant state of low grade depression, and I can see that it’s an appropriate diagnosis for me because I feel a bit “down” almost all of the time. I’m not really sick but I’m sad and feeling the loss of the vitality that the hypomania brings.

I’m a bit disconcerted by all this. It makes me realize once again that I’ll always cycle thru these emotions, maybe more easily at times than others, but they’ll always be there, up and down, again and again, even when I’m “stable”. It sometimes feels like a bleak future for me, but I refuse to accept that it’s going to define my life as I get older. At times it feels like I don’t have enough time left to get it right, but then I see that I really have all the time I need and I can do it if I just keep trying. I’m still pretty young after all, and people do amazing things in their 60’s and 70’s and well beyond that.

I have a lifetime of experience that tells me that, tho I’ll still cycle much of the time, I’ll also have relatively calm periods when I just feel OK. During these times I can assess my actions and behaviors and make decisions to act less impulsively and obsessively. I can learn to think things thru more thoroughly before I act or speak. Seeing these aspects of my personality lately has given me an impetus to renew my commitment to taking better care of myself, more consciously. I already think of myself as a conscious person, but obviously I don’t always live up to these expectations of myself.

I’m continually learning to cut myself some slack for my failures. It’s a big part of healing for me. I still hate myself for the slightest misstep, and beat myself up mercilessly. Suicidal ideation is not that far away at times, tho thankfully it’s not the problem it used to be. It’s a hard thing to experience as frequently as I have in the past. It’s too often been the default setting for my negative emotions when I screw up and it’s very hard to uproot it from my consciousness. Now I’ll still feel bad about myself, but usually not so much that I want to die.

In fact I want to live, and live well. So I’ll keep trying to moderate my moods and be more aware of them as they cycle back and forth thru my consciousness. It can be a blurry line between accepting responsibility for my actions and recognizing that the manic depression has “pushed’ me in certain directions that are not in my best interests. I think I’m getting better at seeing these differences all the time. After all I just caught myself for the ways I’ve been blowing it recently. This gives me hope that I can actually keep doing it. All I have to do is stay aware of my thinking, and treat myself with gentle loving care, the way I try to treat other people. It’ll be a big challenge, but I think I can do it.

Cycling consciously,


A Painful Week

This week, my body started attacking me with severe abdominal pain, seemingly out of nowhere.  It actually happened once the week before, at 4 in the morning, but I thought it was just an anomaly.  But this week it began occurring with some regularity.  It was happening after eating a meal, and I was also consistently getting woken up at 4am with severe pain.  So, I went to the health clinic and they said it’s probably my gallbladder, and I need an ultrasound to diagnose it.  In the meantime, I have to eat an extremely low-fat diet.  The ultrasound is this coming Tuesday.  I have lost my appetite and severely cut down my food consumption, so when I got on the scale today I had lost three pounds, YAY!  The happy side of extreme abdominal pain.  Nevertheless, I am worried that they won’t find anything with the ultrasound, and I’ll just be left hanging with this extreme (EXTREME!) pain.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Being in this much pain really took it out of me this week, I actually had to take naps, which I never do, and I only exercised one time this week.  I didn’t do as much on my job search as I usually do.  I had two phone interviews, one for a Security job and one for a Desktop Support job.  The Security job requires a Top Secret clearance, which I don’t think I’d be able to get, with a foreclosure, bankruptcy, and mental illness in my history.  Plus, I would have to wait months to start the job while they secured the clearance.  The Desktop Support job sounds promising, but when I looked up the company on Glassdoor the reviews were total shit.  However, I am desperate for a job so I don’t know how choosy I can be at this point.  I did get another email for another phone interview on Friday, hopefully I will have that one on Monday.  That job is closer and hopefully it’s a better company, I need to look it up.

My mood crashed to about as low as it could go when my rent got withdrawn from my bank account and I was left with $300.  THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!  The good news is that I didn’t go into suicidal ideation, because I’ve made a firm decision that that is not an option for me.  The other good news is that my very generous sister gave me $400 to take the pressure off.  Now I have enough to pay the monthly bills.  I will have to get a loan from Mom & Dad to pay April’s rent, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  It’s only March 3rd.  THANK GOD for family support!!!!  Still it feels like shit not to be self-supporting, and I want to get a job as soon as possible.  I think that’s probably obvious :).

Happy Things:  We have been having some beautiful, Spring like days which I looooooooove.  Also, we are one weekend away from Springing Forward!!!  I have been taking my two 13 year old goddaughters to work out on Saturdays and that time with them is golden.  All very happy things to be grateful for.  Also through all of my personal turmoil, I have remained a non-smoker.  This is a happy thing too.  And in total I have lost nine pounds so far, so my big fat pregnant-looking tummy is slowly shrinking, thank you JEEBUS!!!  That is a relief.  I am very self-conscious about my weight and it is a relief to be losing weight.

Well this is a long-ass blog so I think I will bring it to a close.  I hope you all had a good week.  Let me know how you are in the Comments!  Peaches and Love to you!

Penny Positive #67

From An Optimist’s Calendar