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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Brushed Teeth: Yes
Walked: Yes, 90 min 4.63 miles (Feb 28)
Healthy Breakfast: Yes
No Dunks or Starbucks: Yes
Mood: Sick, exhausted, depressed, still motivated though
I have been slacking on blogging as I’ve lamented in my last three blogs but, this whole period has just been one long sick mess so I’m just combining days to catch us all up and then I’ll get back on the ball. The stats above apply for all days the 25th through the 28th with the exception of the walking. Here’s the thing, I had and still have, a killer head cold but, I am not slacking on my exercise, diet, hygiene, housekeeping routines at all. I may be waiting to go to the gym until the Mucinex kicks in but I’m still going to the gym and working as hard as I would any day. It’s weird because I still have the depressed mood, fatigue, negativity and I can’t follow through on anything but, this isn’t like my depression or so I thought. Read more
Brushed Teeth: Yes
Walked: Yes, 54 min 2.73 miles
Healthy Breakfast: Yes
Mood: Determined and depressed (such conflicting emotions)
I done got schooled at PT today. First off I shouldn’t be stressing about working my lower abs because you can’t single out your lower abs, it’s one muscle (rectus abdominis). You can’t work part of a muscle. He assured me that the crunches, side crunches and bridges he assigned were enough. I then asked him if the leg workout he gave me (squats with calf raise) was enough because I had been doing a lot more. He said yes and to never do the single leg raise it’s a bad exercise. I told him I would love to work smarter, I don’t want to be working out in ways that aren’t going to help me lose weight. He could see that I was itching to do more so he took me out to the gym.
He taught me 3 different types of workouts that were quick and effective; tabata, 5x5x5, and 50s. Tabata is a simple interval training system. You do 20 seconds of an exercise (today we did squats with calf raise) as hard as you can and then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat that 8 times and then you are done. It works your muscles and raises your heart rate. It’s awesome. 5x5x5 we did with push-ups and it was not easy. You do 5 reps very slowly, 5 very fast, and 5 at your regular pace with no break in between. It was very hard. The last one 50s is also a pretty simple concept. You do 50 reps of an exercise no matter how many sets it takes. So do as many as you can or 15 whichever comes first then repeat until you’ve done 50 reps. I think this would have been harder if I had been using heavier weights but, it was still a good workout. Read more
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.
Brushed Teeth: Yes
Walked: Yes, 36 min 2 miles
Healthy Breakfast: Yes
Today’s workout was better. I think podcasts are the key to not getting bored on the treadmill. I’m not quite so worried about giving up on my habits anymore. Phew! The rest of the day was pretty productive. I’ve been working on cleaning my bedroom. It was a mess. I’ve been depressed for so long. I had dirty laundry all over the floor, clean laundry piled on top of the dresser, dishes, truffles I got for Christmas, paperwork from my many hospital stays and far too many books. I was finding it difficult because of my physical illnesses (see this post for more info). I got so tired so quickly, I just still haven’t regained my endurance. I was working for about 10 minutes before I got short of breath and my lower back started hurting.
But on to the good news, the reason I’m so obsessed with getting my bedroom cleaned is because I bought myself a desk and a nice chair. You may not know this but all of my blog posts have been written from my couch with me hunched over the coffee table. It is really hard to get comfortable and it isn’t easy to get in the mood to write while my daughter or son are watching TV. So I’ve been cleaning and organizing my room so that I have a safe haven for writing. I’m very excited about it. I think that soon you’ll see an increase in non journal entry posts. I’m going to get back to it. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.