Moving to realismbitesback.blogspot.com

Moving to realismbitesback.blogspot.com

I haven’t blogged in so long that when I finally did the other day I made a decision to ditch WordPress. I haven’t had a ton of problems with it, it’s just too robust for me. I don’t make use of the features, I just want to write and post and I don’t need anything fancy to do that so I’ve exported the posts from this site to realismbitesback.blogspot.com. My goal is, once the transition is complete, to use realismbites.com as my blogger domain name but I haven’t looked into it yet. Just happy to be blogging again.

How The Martian Depressed & Then Inspired Me ::spoilers::

How The Martian Depressed & Then Inspired Me ::spoilers::

How The Martian Depressed & Then Inspired Me ::spoilers::

WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Martian turn back now if you haven’t seen it yet and want to eventually.

I just finished watching The Martian and I felt the need to write a review and explore how this movie made me feel. The movie is based on the novel The Martian by Andy Weir. It is a story of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope which highlights that the good people outnumber the bad by a large margin. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I did feel a bit shitty for being depressed even though I have a home and a family and a car and food when Mark Watney survived and I would say thrived in such a dire situation. I know this is foolish because comparing is never a good idea and Mark Watney is a fictional character but, it’s just how I felt initially. I wished I could be half as strong, determined, and intelligent as Watney.

Read more

My First Mixed State

My First Mixed State

My First Mixed State

I’ve been struggling with bipolar II for sixteen years now and while my hypomania has become more and more tame over the years my depression has been worsening. Normally they are two separate states I am either depressed (from moderate – severe) or hypomanic. Depression is near constant but every once in awhile I get a “break” from it and experience a hypomanic episode which generally leads to me being optimistic and motivated to fix some area of my life. Lately though I’ve had the worst of both worlds for the first time in my life that I know of and it is horrible.

My mixed state is so debilitating. I sleep too much, do absolutely nothing yet my brain is absolutely flooded with racing thoughts and I am overspending like crazy. Everything I am buying is intended to help me get over this. Crystals, books on bipolar II or changing your core beliefs, aroma therapy oils and a diffuser. I haven’t showered in weeks but, I’m creating spreadsheets and a binder for my healing crystals. It is so frustrating and I just don’t know what to do. How do you make yourself do something (other than shopping)? That may seem like a silly question to someone without mental illness but for me it is and has been the most important question there is.

I can be organized and productive but usually it is due to hypomania and comes with a cost; irritability, going broke, realizing my hopes and dreams are unrealistic, and the inevitable depression that follows. I can’t be sure if I’ve ever been well and productive but if I have, if it wasn’t hypomania, it taxed my body and mind so much that I crashed and burned eventually. This worries me. What if I can’t be well? Have I ever really been well? Is this my first mixed state or am I just noticing it this time because I’m out of work? Are there any foolproof plans for overcoming this? Can I ever learn to manage my bipolar II? Am I ADD or is it my bipolar?

I am looking into answers to these questions and one approach I’m interested in is to get myself a full neuropsych evaluation. I’ve never had one and I think/hope that it will illuminate which of my issues are chemical and which are learned, which stem from PTSD and which stem from genetics, which disorders I really have. Have you found solace or help in neuropsych testing? The other option is DNA testing. From what I’ve read understanding my DNA is an easier way for a prescriber to figure out which medications work best for me. If you’ve had experience with this, positive or negative, I would love to hear from you. I don’t know what else I can do. I am in therapy, taking my meds, and I’m in an Intensive Outpatient Program and yet I am still a mess. It’s never been this bad in fact.

I need to get back to work for my sanity and to become more financially comfortable but I am in no state to apply for and interview for jobs or work for that matter. I can’t even brush my teeth or eat a well balanced meal how can I go to work everyday? I’m terrified to go on disability, I feel like that has a stigma attached to it that I’ll never be able to wash off. I mean no offense to anyone on disability and would love to hear your experiences. Does it hurt you when you’re trying to find a job? Can employers tell you’re on it? I don’t intend to be on it forever. I want to go back to school and get a job I love and I am afraid it will hurt me. I haven’t even researched it so please forgive me if I sound completely ignorant on the matter because I am. I’m terrified to research it. I don’t want to accept that it’s inevitable.

Does it have to be inevitable? I know people can hold a job while having bipolar. I know people can lead full lives but, I can’t seem to. Are there people who just can’t? Mixed states don’t last forever do they? There has to be some relief coming, right? There has to be some help I haven’t thought to ask for. I know this post raises far more questions than it answers but, that sort of sums up how I feel. My head is swimming with questions that I can’t answer yet. I suppose it is more that I won’t find the answers. I won’t do the work. I can’t do the work. If you have any answers I would appreciate your feedback very much. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

Sleep, Diet, and Exercise

Sleep, Diet, and Exercise

I’m sorry for posting from my phone all day I know it isn’t as pretty. This is going to be a micro post based on something I just tweeted that I wanted to elaborate on.

It’s widely known that healthy and regular sleep, diet, and exercise helps depression. What is unfair is when you’re depressed those are the three things that are most difficult to control.

I tried to get on a sleep schedule but I just laid in the dark for an hour and a half. I even journaled before bed and put away the screens an hour before. I can’t sleep and I know this will lead to me napping quite a bit tomorrow.

I don’t want to eat anything. The thought makes me nauseous. I can however drink lattes and eat the occasional donut so I guess it is more like I don’t want to eat anything that I don’t LOVE. I’ve been forcing myself to drink carnation instant breakfast, oatmeal, and cereal but that’s about it.

Exercise is a weird one for me. You see I love exercise. I feel great going, exercising, and I’m happy when I leave. I feel productive. I think the reason I’m not doing the thing I love is because I’m not getting decent sleep and because my diet is crappy so I’m extremely fatigued.

I guess my point here is this is like a catch 22 you could do all these things that would help you manage your depression but only if you weren’t depressed. See? It’s frustrating. Needless to say I am going to continue trying to work on these areas of my life but I know it is not going to be a piece of cake.

Wish me luck and let me know your thoughts on this issue. I love comments! I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

Partial Hospitalization Eval (after)

Partial Hospitalization Eval (after)

So I got there and had to fill out a ton of paperwork, of course, then I met with my clinician. She was very nice and understanding. We went over my history, both mental and medical. I told her about all the trauma I’ve been through, I told her I’ve been having increased panic attacks and sleeping all day. I told her about my low self esteem and my negative self talk. I did not however tell her about my issues with hygiene which is my most troubling issue.

I also told her about something I haven’t talked about here. Something I’m not entirely proud of. I was in a mental hospital before ages ago because I was hallucinating. I was only there for a night and then I did partial hospitalization for a day and then stopped. The reason I am not proud of this is, I was not hallucinating, I was hypomanic and decided I wanted to write a book about mental health but had never been in a hospital so how could I? I needed to experience it. I took up a bed for no reason. I feel terrible about it now but in the moment it made perfect sense. I hope anyone who has needed a bed and had trouble getting one can forgive me.

Other than me talking about my medication, history, symptoms, family, etc. she told me about the program. There is to be no drinking or drug use during the length of the program, even at night. That won’t be a problem for me thankfully. She asked for emergency contacts and if I get agressive I said no I can get irritable and even angry but I’ve never been violent in any way.

She then showed me the schedule of groups which I am very excited for. Tomorrow is my first day and there is a self esteem group and a distress tolerance group that I’m really looking forward to. Monday is managing mood disorders and health and wellness. Tuesday I’m interested in emotion regulation and mindfulness. Wednesday doesn’t seem to apply to me too much other than the processing emotions group. Thursday there are managing anxiety and stress, interpersonal effectiveness (could be interesting?), and stinkin’ thinkin’ which is all about quitting the negative self talk.

I’m excited for so many of these groups and to see the psychiatrist to work on my meds. They are not working, something’s got to give. My regular therapist went through all my med notes and noticed that my depression started in July which was when I got sick but it was also when I switched to Welbutrin. Maybe Welbutrin just isn’t for me. I’d love to get off it and see if I feel better (with Doctor’s orders of course).

Last but not least we set up a family appt for me and my boyfriend. It’ll be psychoeducation for him and also how he can help when I am just starting to get depressed and don’t know it yet and how he can help when I’m in such a major depressive episode.

I’m still a little anxious but I’m also very excited. I think this will really help. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

Partial Hospitalization Eval (Before)

Partial Hospitalization Eval (Before)

I’m writing this on my phone because my laptop is in my bedroom and my boyfriend is asleep in there. If you follow me on Twitter @realismbites you probably already know that I am starting partial hospitalization today, well the eval is today anyway. I am/was very optimistic about this. Then my depressed negative brain got to me. Making me think, “this is my last resort, what if it doesn’t help?”

I know logically stressing about what ifs is foolish but it didn’t stop the terrible panic attack from coming. So bad that two Xanax, my gold standard anxiety relief pill, couldn’t help me to breathe. I ended up having to sleep it off which isn’t easy to do with palpitations and trouble breathing. I spoke with my boyfriend, a friend, and my Sisters about it and they all agreed; it could work, don’t worry about what ifs, and this couldn’t be the last resort.

It should have calmed me down logically I knew they were right but the panic still bugged me as I tried to get to sleep. The moment finally came, I made it to la la land and woke up a few hours later feeling much better. I’m not sure why my Xanax didn’t help, maybe because the panic attack started in Target and I didn’t take it until it was in full swing 20 minutes later. I really need to keep some in my purse.

Either way I am feeling a bit more positive this morning. I just finished breakfast and I’m going to be leaving soon to learn all about the program. From what I understand they tweak your meds to find the right mix for you, there is a lot of group therapy, individual therapy, and worksheets/activity. I’m bad at doing homework for my mental health but having to finish in that setting I can handle.

Wish me luck. I’ll write more later to let you all know how the evaluation went.

Have you ever been in a partial hospitalization program? Did it work for you? Please let me know in the comments. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

Panicking Over Nothing or Eating Nothing

Panicking Over Nothing or Eating Nothing

Kermit Panic

I just had a pretty fun day. I played with my nephews for most of morning, ran a few errands but, nothing stressful and then, suddenly anxiety took hold of me for no apparent reason. That is definitely when it is the most frustrating. I get it when I get anxious around new people or a large group of people. I get it when I get anxious when I am close to missing a deadline. I get it when I get anxious because I am overwhelmed by too many thoughts or things to do. I do not get why I get anxious while playing with my adorable nephews. It was really strong too. I took one Xanax and it didn’t help so now, a couple of hours later, I’ve taken another and hopefully that will kick in.

I am going to take a nap which doesn’t sound very productive but, sometimes I am able to sleep it off. I have to go get my blood drawn today and I have an appt with my therapist which I can’t miss because I missed last week. My psychiatrist increased my Lamictal last week and said, after I told her how anxious I have been lately, that we should think about increasing the Paxil as well but, to wait ten days after the Lamictal change. She doesn’t like changing multiple things at once because then it’s hard to tell which medicine made the difference. It makes sense but, my anxiety just wants me to increase the Paxil ASAP. I listen to my Doctors though so I will give it the ten days.

I just realized I may been panicking because the idea that I might have an eating disorder has been in my head since last night. All of my depressed life I have had issues with self-care one of those being eating 3 meals a day but, it is usually a matter of being too lazy or busy (watching TV most likely) and thinking I’ll eat in a minute and then never getting around to it. It was never a conscious choice to skip a meal. It just sort of happened. Last night I made a conscious decision to skip dinner after accidentally skipping lunch. I don’t know why I did it. It could be because we’re doing this biggest losers competition in my family and I haven’t been exercising and I’ve been eating crappy. Even then though I know about starvation mode and how skipping meals does not necessarily make you skinnier. I think for me it is what keeps me fat. So maybe I thought this time it would work for some reason.

I’m not sure exactly of my motivation. I was tired and wanted to nap. I set my alarm for 6pm so I could get up and eat dinner and start my bedtime routine but instead I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. So maybe it wasn’t about losing weight at all maybe it was just my laziness/fatigue due to my severe depression. If so I feel much better about it. I do not need another diagnosis that’s for sure. I plan to talk to my therapist about this tonight. I’ll tweet or write more about it later.

I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

What’s at the End of my Labyrinth?

What’s at the End of my Labyrinth?

What's at the End of my Labyrinth?

This is going to be one of those thinking out loud kind of posts. I find writing helps me figure things out. As you may have read in the last two paragraphs of my Guess Who’s Back post, I feel like Sarah in the junk heap obstacle in Labyrinth. Sarah eventually remembers why she needs to get to the castle, to save her brother Toby, but I can’t remember why I need to get to the castle (if I ever knew in the first place) so I just linger with my distractions. I need to determine what I’m working toward. I need to get to the castle, grab what I came for, and tell my depression, “you have no power over me.” It sounds great but, in order to get to that castle, I need a good reason and I can’t think of one. Read more

Give me Something to Sing About

Give me Something to Sing About

Give Me Something to Sing About: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Once More With Feeling an Excellent Allegory for Depression

Pop culture addresses mental illness in different ways. Either directly as in the Doctor Who episode Vincent and the Doctor or as an allegory like in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode Once More with Feeling (Available on Netflix here).

You don’t really have to be a fan of Buffy to understand the examples I’m going to provide. I’m going to give you a video of each song (which isn’t necessary but fun), a snippet of the lyrics, and then I’ll explain why and how they speak to me and my own struggle with depression. Read more

How do I Flip the Switch?

How do I Flip the Switch?

  
I’m awake at 1:39 am because I was in bed until about 1:39 pm yesterday. My depression is getting worse and my avoidance is off the charts. I started thinking maybe getting out of this major depression is like quitting smoking; you can try and try to quit but you won’t be able to until a switch is flipped in your brain. I think that is how I’ll end up getting out of my depression, one day the switch will flip and I’ll be better but how do I make that happen?

I’ve tried healthy habits, I go to therapy every week, I take my medsevery day (with some exceptions or delays), I’m doing the yoga training to try to breathe my way out of it, I’ve tried reiki, I’ve tried writing my way out of it, and reasoning my way out of it. All to no avail. I realized today that yeah I go to therapy and yoga training but I never do the homework. Why? Is it my ADD making it difficult to complete assignments or am I self-sabotaging?

I’m a master self-saboteur. I’ve been doing it my whole life. I just don’t realize I’m doing it until after the fact or when things have gotten really out of hand. I think to flip the switch I need to determine why I am doing it.

I am anxious about looking for a new job, I am anxious about whether I’m ready and able to return to work, I am worried that my mental illnesses will screw up my new job (whatever that may be), I’m worried I’ll have to settle for a job that I hate, I’m worried that I’ll have to settle for less money, I’m worried that I won’t be able to work and go to school, I’m worried that I won’t have time to work out once I get a job (not like I’m doing that now), I’m just scared of moving forward I think.

So how do I overcome that fear? I suppose I can answer all of those fears with a positive/realistic counter argument. Looking for a new job won’t be so bad, it’s just a matter of searching the Internet which I do all the time anyways. My therapist will help me decide when I’m ready to return to work. I will get the right combination of medications before returning to work so I will be able to work despite depression or hypomania. I won’t settle for a job I hate. I won’t settle for less money. I will be able to work and go to school just like I did when I worked in Boston (and I got all A’s then). I will make time to workout going back to work will help me be more productive thanks to the new routine. Moving forward will help so much, I need to get off the couch and into a new office.

I don’t know if recognizing what is holding me back will help flip the switch but, I’ve got my fingers crossed. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.