Mental Health

I Regret Nothing…Maybe

Looking back through some old (and mostly private) posts, about three years ago, I was falling apart. Depression was worse ever, anxiety was bad, there was lots of family stuff going on, etc. — just a straight up clusterfuck. And then I made things a hundred times worse when I stopped taking my antidepressant and anxiety medicine on a whim. It makes me cringe so hard now just thinking about what a straight up mess I was.

Image result for inspiration get to where i am today

Okay, yeah, inspirational type things like that really aren’t me.

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If I were going to do an inspirational type thing, it’d be something along the lines of, “Yay, you’re less of a fuck up than you were a few years ago. Go, you.” (And now I really want to make that and post it in the comments section of the next person who posts one of those memes. Oh hell, I’ll do it.)

It’s been about a year since I saw my therapist. And in the year range since I wrote anything about my own mental health. And I never dance around those issues with my friends anymore, either. (I say “dance around” because those conversations were very limited and vague.) After spilling my guts the other ways for the better part of three years, it’s been weird not saying anything and kinda losing touch with myself, if you know what I mean. I went from being very in tune with my feelings, moods, etc. to, well, not. 

That kinda bit me in the ass a little, too.

A few months ago, I started having some heart palpitations. A few times per hour, I was having palpitations. Since the only other time I have had heart palpitations is when I was having an awful anxiety/panic attack, I assumed that my heart was about to kick it.

Husband: “It’s anxiety.” 

After waiting for my heart to kick it for a week, I went to the doctor.

New doctor: “Sounds like anxiety.” 

Me: I don’t think so…

<refers me to cardiologist, palpitations worsen>

Cardiologist: “I really think this is due to anxiety, but I’ll do an ECG.” 

That turned out fine, of course, but I still didn’t think it was anxiety. I figured that as someone who has dealt with anxiety pretty much forever, that I would know if anxiety were the culprit. I mean, yes, I was having anxiety and very much on edge a lot, but still…that wasn’t how it typically presented in me.

Psychiatrist: “What’s new in your world?” 

I tell her about the palpitations.

Psychiatrist: “Oh yeah, that’s anxiety, it might be time for you to start back taking a daily medication again.” 

Me, in my head: IT’S NOT ANXIETY.

Me: I don’t think it is. Doesn’t seem right. 

Psychiatrist: Maybe it’s not, but let’s give this a try for a month and see what changes.

I agreed.

Within a few days, the palpitations were gone. Hmph. Being the person that I am, I skipped them for a couple of days, and lo and behold, palpitations started back. So everyone was right except for me on this one.

That definitely showed me that I’m not as on top of the anxiety (or any of the other mental health stuff) the way that I was. Maybe if I had been mood tracking (the tracker goes through a bunch of symptoms on a sliding scale to show how you’re doing with anxiety, depression, etc.), I’d have put it together on my own without wasting a few hundred bucks on having my heart checked. (Or maybe not, it’s possible that I’d have never fingered something I associate with attacks with run of the mill anxiety.) Same thing with my moods — when I’m not diligent about tracking those and being aware of triggers, it’s easy for things to go south and get super irritable. Whereas if I’m more aware, I can tap out or do whatever it is I need to do to stay right. Not so much tapping out these days.

So, I guess I should add this to my New Year’s Resolutions list — track shit, lest I go in clusterfuck mode again. I’ve got an app downloaded to my phone, plus I was gifted a nice adult coloring book/marker set for Christmas. Everyone says it’s really calming, so we’ll see. I don’t anticipate having the patience for it, but it does look pretty cool.

Really, though, I think it’s extra important to be on top of things right now. As excited as I am about getting a cochlear implant, I know the risks. I know that I might lose the rest of my hearing in the implanted ear, that the sound quality might be awful (think sensory issues), that relearning to hear just might not work out, etc. I’m willing to take those risks because the possible benefit is huge, but I know that if things don’t work out or it gets too overwhelming or whatever, that I could be prone to falling into a bad depression. I guess that’s true any day, but more so with that situation, I’d think.

So, here’s to getting in touch with my brain again, so that I avoid the cringe in future posts. Scratch that — there’s always going to be cringe with me — so I’ll shoot for avoiding batshit cringe.

Next up — time to do a catch up on the family that doesn’t involve talking about what cute/funny thing they said. As much as I enjoy doing the Dorky Mom stuff, it almost pains me at times to only show my family/myself through that one lens. That’s the nature of the content and all, but still…

Till then.

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Share Your World – Week 1

Would you prefer to receive a unicycle, bicycle, tricycle or motorcycle?

Well, considering that having a bicycle was a bit of a disaster for me, I’ll have to pass on that. I’m pretty sure a unicycle would be equally disastrous. I would love to have a motorcycle, since I think they’re bad ass (thanks, Sons of Anarchy), but Sam has already shot that down with not just a “No,” but a “Hell, no.” That leaves a tricycle. I’m not likely to turn over and break something, even if I do have a drink or two, nor am I likely to die in a high-speed death, so a tricycle it is.

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What is one thing you’d like to accomplish this year?

I’d like to lose 30 pounds. I dropped a little weight last year, so slowly losing some more this year (and the next) would be great.

What was one of the highlights of 2016 for you?

There was lots of cool stuff, but I think the top highlight would probably be the mental health wish list I posted at the end of 2015 happening. To save you from clicking the link, at the end of 2015 I wanted:

  • The number of nightmares and times I wake up throughout the night with anxiety attacks reduced
  • A decrease in anxiety
  • Less mood swings, especially the ones throughout the day
  • More consistent “normal” feeling
  • Less days where I feel completely depressed.

All of those happened. Some were to smaller degrees than others, but overall there was improvement. Hopefully that’ll continue in 2017 and I haven’t jinxed myself.

Would you prefer to fly a kite or fly in a hot air balloon?

A kite! You couldn’t pay me to get into a hot air balloon. No amount of money. I did get in one as a kid at a fair or something (one of those deals where you go up maybe a hundred feet, the balloon is attached to the ground by a rope, and they bring you back down), and I was terrified. Adult me ain’t risking falling out. And I know that everyone says I wouldn’t fall out, but y’all (well, those people) obviously don’t know me that well, because I absolutely would trip over something, defy the laws of physics, and be thrown out to my death. Or the bottom of the basket would give away. I’m totally having a nightmare about this tonight.

Share Your World is hosted by Cee — check out her blog here.

Three Day Quote Challenge: Day 1

Challenged by Sahara at Creo Somnium

I’m sure many of y’all have heard the news that Carrie Fisher passed away earlier today. As someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year and a half ago, I was intrigued with her (beyond my Star Wars obsession) because of how honest and outspoken she is about having bipolar disorder herself — quite the inspiration. I’m not usually affected by celebrity deaths, but this one hurts. At the risk of seeming tacky for using a quote by Fisher today as part of this challenge, I’m going to use this anyway as a reminder to my fellow blog friends suffering from bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, since her words apply to mental illnesses across the board IMO. carrie-fisher-bipolar-disorder

I’m not nominating anyone to participate — join in if you’d like. If you do, I’d like to challenge you to use a quote on mental illness for one of your days.

Drop It

I don’t often tell people in real life that I have bipolar disorder. As would be expected, that’s on a need-to-know basis, and most people don’t need to know. As far as family and friends go, a few know, but most don’t. They do know, however, that I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression (mostly because I post links and stuff on Facebook, not so much me telling them directly), which is enough to explain any odd behaviors on my part. Even with new doctors, I avoid mentioning it unless I’m specifically asked why I’m taking certain medications. (A couple doctors didn’t bat an eye, but another acted flabbergasted before telling me, “that’s okay…that’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Awkward.)

Recently, one of the few people that knows brought it up. The ones that know generally don’t mention it — they sometimes ask how things are going, if everything is all right with me in such a serious way that I know what they’re referring to, but that’s the extent of it. My answers are usually “things are fine,” “things are okay,” or “things are a little tough right now, but they’ll be okay soon enough.” +0 points for transparency.

“I don’t think you have bipolar disorder,” this person told me. I had regretted telling this friend, who was more of a pal and less of a close friend (if you know what I mean), but it was an alcohol-induced admission, one of those times when I had too much to drink and had gotten emotional and said too much. Ugh.

“Okay…” I was taken aback. The comment was out of left field (we hadn’t even been discussing anything related to mental health).

“My cousin has bipolar disorder, and it’s really bad,” he said. “I’ve never seen things bad with you at all, so you probably don’t have that. It’s just something else with you.”

Right. Someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time around me, who has never had an in-depth conversation with me about my mental health issues, knows better than my psychiatrist and doctor.

“Okay…well, things do get bad with me. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder for a reason. And…after almost a year and a half, that diagnosis hasn’t changed.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but I’ve never seen it with you. And bipolar disorder is bad. My cousin can barely function sometimes. I really think you’ve got something else.”

I started feeling kinda pissed, but didn’t let it show. “Maybe your cousin has type 1. I have type 2. But it’s not going to look the same with everyone. And you probably won’t ever see anything from me. Not to mention, I’m on medications that help a lot, and that can take a long time to get right for many people,” I rambled.

Drop it. 

“My cousin doesn’t take anything, but I feel like I would see it from you if you had it,” he insisted.

“Okay. Like I said, my psychiatrist has diagnosed me. With mixed features. And I’ve actually read the criteria, so I know that it fits.” Plus, in a period of doubt once — when I had myself had convinced that the psychiatrist was wrong, since who wants to have something that’s going to be wrong with them lifelong and take meds lifelong? — the psychiatrist had broken out her copy of the DSM-5 and went through it with me, hitting on all my symptoms that fit the criteria.

“You know, they really do over diagnose bipolar disorder now,” he told me. “I read about it online.”

This was pointless. And ridiculous…why should I have to convince something like this to someone who really didn’t have a clue — not about me, not about bipolar disorder, not about how to be a polite person? “Right. I’m sure they do.” And then I changed the subject, which I should’ve already done.

People always do this sort of thing — when you’re anxious, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with your brain, but you just need to stop worrying. It’s easy enough for everyone else, so it should be for you, right? Same with depression — everyone gets a little sad sometimes, so you just need to get over it.

I don’t really have any point with this post other than to get something that had been bothering me for a few weeks off my chest. I could tell you not to be that person who makes such comments, but if you’re someone who reads this blog, I probably don’t need to say that.

Edit: Also (since I’ve said it a couple times in the comments already), I don’t think people always have bad intentions when they make ignorant comments or push with topics like this. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, but does make the difference between being ticked off and wanting to punch someone in the throat.

The Struggle Is Real

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is Struggle, so I’m going to vent a little about my mental health struggles.

I mentioned in another post that anxiety has been a bitch lately. That’s still the case. I can be doing something as simple as cooking (and normal cooking, not burn-the-house-down-with-a-grease-fire cooking) and the sirens start going off. While having anxiety is a normal thing for me, it’s still crazy how quickly I can go from being good or at least okay to wigging out in the blink of an eye. Over nothing.

Have you ever gone out on a float in the ocean and realized that you were too far from the shore before? You know that feeling of panic that completely washes over you and stilts your breathing and makes you feel like there’s a heavy weight on your chest, you’re done for and all? It goes something like that, but again, over nothing, which adds so much frustration to a sucky situation. (In case you’re wondering, no, I never got lost at sea, but before I was Anxious Mom, I was Anxious Little Girl.)

The psychiatrist I see prescribed two additional medications to take for anxiety regularly — one for during the day and one at night — but neither has helped. The nighttime one makes me not function the next day, and the kids require me to be functional, so that one’s off the table. The daytime one also makes me drowsy during the day (but not completely nonfunctional at least), but I haven’t noticed much of a difference with it, either.

The therapist and I have been trying to get to the bottom of this anxiety that seems to have no reason, but no luck there, either. After pushing me a lot last week on a topic I’ve been mostly avoiding for the past year, the only thing that did was trigger some depression to go on top of my anxiety sundae. Otherwise, I’d been doing pretty good mood-wise since restarting one of my meds. I considered asking for a session this week, but decided against it out of fear it’d just make things worse. Better to give it a chance to slack off before we pick up that conversation again than to get into it and make things go from bad to worse.

So, yeah, the struggle is real.

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Well, maybe not quite that real.

On a brighter note, we go on vacation in less than two weeks, so hopefully getting to kick back by the ocean (even if the kicking back is just for a few minutes at a time, because kids) and seeing one of my good friends will do a lot to boost my mood and help me chill a little. And if not, I see the psychiatrist when I get back.

(We’re at the end now, so do I need to post a comment saying “Yo, reader who says ‘there are worse things happening, get over yourself, blah blah blah,’ don’t even bother because you’ll go straight to the trash bin again”? Oh wait, got it covered now. I hate that I have to include these little parenthetical chunks of text at the end of my posts sometimes to explain that I’m not tolerating certain shit, that I have a sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humor, so don’t go all nuts over a joke, that….maybe I’ll just shut up now.)