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.

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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.

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

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Guess Who's Back, Back Again.

Sorry if that Eminem song is now as stuck in your head as it is in mine. It just fit because I feel as though I’ve fallen away from so many things I loved, including blogging. I fell off the wagon recently, which I was on for so gosh darn long, and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. I think the reason I fell off the wagon can be found in my All or Nothing post but, I’ll provide a quick summary here: I got too obsessed with my healthy habits. I got so obsessed with losing weight and having a perfect streak that I stopped doing everything when I stopped doing something. It’s a mess and then I went through a period of eating absolute crap, doing nothing and sleeping until 1:30pm. In short I was suffering from major depression exacerbated by my PMDD. I recognized it as soon as it started to get worse and took the extra meds meant to prevent it getting this bad but, they couldn’t touch it. Back to the drawing board for those meds I suppose. Read more

All or Nothing (the bane of my existence)

All or Nothing (the bane of my existence)

All or Nothing (the bane of my existence)

I have always had an all or nothing attitude which has held me back in so many ways. I am either kicking ass and taking names or I am slowly becoming a part of the couch. It is very rare that I allow myself to do part of something or to do a mediocre job because I am a perfectionist. If I can’t do it perfectly I won’t do it at all. This leads to me putting so much pressure and importance on a project that I either stress about it all day long (even when I’m not working on the project) or I crash and burn and leave the job half done. I also tend to get analysis paralysis (can’t take credit, my therapist calls it that); I plan things so intricately that I never get to them. I want to make sure I do the task as efficiently and expertly as possible so I think and plan and think and plan and never get around to the doing phase. I’m not sure which one of my many mental illnesses are responsible for this but, I’m leaning toward the ADD, bipolar II, and maybe even the anxiety. Read more

Reasons I’m Great

Reasons I’m Great

Reasons I'm Great

I’ve been very negative about myself for a very long time. It is one of the main reasons I am stuck in this rut but, the problem is I think these negative opinions of myself that I hold are completely logical and that saying the opposite would be a lie and I don’t want to lie to myself. I think I’m a terrible Mother (though my therapist points out that my children are doing very well, which they are). I think I’m a terrible employee (though I had big fans at my last couple of jobs who praised me weekly). I think the only reason I got my last promotion was because my boss knew I was having financial trouble and felt sorry for me (my therapist says that is not how companies work). Those are just some examples of negative thoughts I have about myself. The point of this post is to accentuate the positive even if it won’t eliminate the negative. I’m going to list some things that I think make me great and I’m going to do so without typing the “but” thoughts that come after. Read more

The Dread

The Dread

The Dread

I’ve been depressed since 1998 in varying degrees of severity and yet I’ve never felt anything so severe as what I’ve been calling “the dread”. It is this overwhelming, pervasive, darkness that washes over me all of a sudden. I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to do anything at all. Nothing is appealing to me. It is just unbearable. It makes my skin crawl. I feel like I need to go to sleep immediately to escape it. I can imagine this is what people who are suicidal might feel like. I am luckily not suicidal, I don’t know why but, I just never have been but, if this feeling keeps coming maybe it will wear me down.

Like I said I have been depressed for nearly two decades but, my symptoms have always been mostly physical; can’t shower, can’t eat, can’t get out of bed, that sort of thing. I mean of course I also beat myself up constantly and had plenty of panic attacks about how much I suck at life but, I’ve never felt like this. I’ve been sad. This isn’t sadness. I’ve been frustrated and angry and hopeless and this is not any of those things either. This didn’t start until about 3 weeks ago but, it has been haunting me ever since.

Could it be medicine related? I started a new medicine a month or so ago, Latuda. Can Latuda make depression worse? My psychiatrist said no and thinks it’s just a coincidence. She said that I have a lot to be depressed about;  losing my job and all of my medical maladies that are still slowing me down and making me more easily fatigued for instance. Maybe that is all it is. Maybe 2015 sucked so badly that it scarred me in some way (to learn how badly 2015 sucked click here). Maybe I have cabin fever. Maybe not having a job for so long is taking its toll. I wish I could just go back to work but, my therapist doesn’t think I’m ready for that and neither do I. I’m too depressed to be selling myself cheerfully in interviews. If it was just a matter of going back to my old job that would be so easy. I could go back part time at first, or work from home for a bit. Losing my job is what sent me over the edge for sure.

Even then though, the dread didn’t start until months after I was let go so I don’t think it is the sole reason or key to unlocking what is really causing it. Maybe it is all of my unprocessed trauma sitting on my chest like an invisible but, still just as heavy elephant. Maybe the dread keeps coming because my mind/body can no longer handle repressing it all. I guess I don’t know why it’s here or when it will stop but, I know I can’t live like this forever. I have to defeat it once and for all somehow. I know my story doesn’t end with me being perpetually unemployed and uneducated. I know that there is a happy ending for me. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I just wish I could get the express train out of this damn depressing tunnel is all.

Can you relate to what I’m feeling? Has a medicine meant to cure your depression made it worse for you? I’d love to hear from you. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.

Mothers, Daughters, and Mental Illness

Mothers, Daughters, and Mental Illness

Mothers, Daughters, and Mental Illness

My daughter (20 years old) and I had a bit of a screaming match this morning, well she screamed at me anyways. My son (18 years old) had just gotten his license and I told her that she really needed her license too so she would be driving herself to school every day. She growled a little about how anxious driving makes her. I then brought up the fact that she is willing to take medicine for ADD (which changed her life) but, is unwilling to take something for anxiety (which is a far more pressing issue for her). Her response was that she was scared of taking too many medications. I explained that I was referring to something like Paxil which will help with her depression but, also has an anti-anxiety component, rather than something like Xanax which is more of a heat of the moment sort of drug. She has an appointment this Friday with her psychiatrist and I recommended she talk to her about it. She got very angry and said, “no, I’ll deal with it on my own.” I asked how. She didn’t respond. I offered to buy her a book on how to overcome anxiety. I started searching Amazon and reading out titles to her and she got even more angry.

I know I was sort of nagging but, I was completely calm the whole time. I’m just really worried about her. I said, “How are you going to deal with it if you won’t do therapy or take medication? I am trying to help you deal with it on your own if that’s what you really want by buying you a book.” She then went off about therapists and how they are all condescending. I asked her why she walked out of her last appointment 10 minutes in and she said that Doreen (who is my therapist too) made her angry because she was being condescending. Now Doreen is about the sweetest, best, therapist out there. She does dish out straightforward talk and maybe she was saying something Taylor didn’t want to hear but, I don’t think she intended to be condescending. Basically anything I said made her more angry to the point of screaming and crying and we get along great, we just cannot talk about mental illness which is the thing we most have in common.

Unfortunately thanks to genealogy she inherited the same issues I inherited from my Dad; ADD and Bipolar (not diagnosed yet because she won’t see her therapist but, we discussed it once and agreed that she seems to have it). She also has crushing anxiety and paranoia. We are so very alike but, she can’t see that yet. Every time I try to help her with her mental illnesses it turns into a screaming match. She thinks I have no idea what I’m talking about. I just don’t know how to talk to her about it. I don’t think I can. I think anything I say is going to be taken as an insult or a slight of some sort even though that is in no way my intent. I’m not trying to force her to face her trauma yet since she is clearly not ready. I’m not trying to force her to take meds if she doesn’t want to. I’m not even going to force her to see a therapist, even though I think it is incredibly helpful. I just want to know what her plan is and I want to help in any way that I can but, she just can’t see that. How do I talk to her? How do I help her? Those aren’t rhetorical questions, I’ll take any suggestions. Have you had similar issues with your children? Did you find a way to talk to them about it without it turning into a fight? I think I might ask my Sister to talk to her because I think she gets upset with me just because I’m Mom. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with a young adult or teenager who is refusing therapy or medication for an overwhelming condition. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.