Tag Archives: Depression

Anxiety Storm

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They always ask me if I’m depressed.

I’ve got Bipolar Type 1 and I cycle super rapidly, what do you think?

No, really, are you depressed?

Let me tell you the truth, I hope you hear me say it this one time because I’ve had enough.

Go ahead.

My anxiety, my stress – if that’s what you need to call it – is at 7 of 10. 10 is call the morgue. My adrenaline has been full on since I can first remember. Fight or flight…. or both.

Yes, that fight or flight reflex can be triggered.

Listen to me. All the time. It’s all the time. Stop asking me if I’m depressed because the answer will always be yes. What you should be concerned about is my anxiety. I’m more likely to have the top of my head exploded from that than I am from depression.

You know, you’d be surprised at how often that’s the case.

Shit.

Checking-In

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Under my pergola during the eclipse, 2017.

I didn’t realize today was Sunday until my dear mother texted me and reminded me that the Seahawks were playing. Sunday. How did we get from the horrors of Thursday, past the delightful day hiking on Mt. Rainier on Friday… to Sunday?

(Thursday I spent 4 hours in the Denturist’s chair. It was terrible. The worst was when he oozed goo down my throat and didn’t know it. I hurled and hurled until up came a wad of latex looking stuff. Then, another large piece… then, a third. The teaching Professor said it sounded like I was being given the heimlich. I was. Only I was giving it to myself. It was a nightmare. I haven’t been able to sleep because I keep feeling the goo going down my throat and sitting just beyond the reach of my fingers… I keep eating to try to make the feeling go away. It isn’t working.)

Now Sunday is ending. I got up early and walked my dog before the fall rains started. Literally, today was the first rain in days and days. It has ushered in the fall. The temperature has lowered in one week and the air is crisp.

I enjoy the cool clean air, but I will miss the sun. The sun helped me fight my depression. I’m hoping to spend time outside during the cloudy months under my covered pergola nestled in a warm coat.

Right now, I’m feeling sad, as though I’ve wasted my day. I spent quite a lot of time getting to know how to use Dish and Alexa. Dish doesn’t display the time like the Xfinity box did so I had no idea how long I’d been fussing around. I’ll need to get a little digital clock.

I’m feeling sad, fearful and anxious. One and a half weeks and my classes at the University of Washington will resume. I can’t control my emotions regarding it.

At this moment, Alexa is playing me some relaxing classical music. I’m thankful for that.

Bipolar depression: Sad or mad?

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When you’re watching for emerging symptoms of bipolar depression, make sure “irritability” is on the list. You’re just as likely to be unusually crabby, intolerant, and easily annoyed during a depressive episode as to be apathetic or despondent.

More research has been done on irritability in major depressive disorder than in bipolar disorder, but results from both groups indicate that from 40 percent to 60 percent report depressive episodes marked by irritability.

“Irritable depression” (that’s a description, not a diagnostic term) is associated with more severe depressive episodes, more frequently recurring episodes, and co-existing anxiety.

A study published in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders in December 2016 found that participants with irritable depression also tend to take longer to recover from an episode and had more “unfavorable illness characteristics,” such as higher rates of substance use and more suicidality.

All of which means it’s even more important to take preventive measures when your irritability meter ticks upward.

bp Magazine’s columnist and blogger, Julie Fast uses the terms “weepy depression” and “angry depression” to describe the different ways she can experience bipolar downshifts. Weepy depression comes with what you might call stereotypical symptoms: feeling sad and hopeless, crying a lot, shutting down socially, becoming physically lethargic and

having trouble concentrating.

With angry depression, she writes, you feel “pissed off at everyone and everything. Kittens and puppies make you mad.” You focus on the negative, finding “garbage in the gutter when there is a rainbow in the sky.”

[THIS WAS THE CONTENT OF bp’s NEWSLETTER DATED 2/16/17. You can find bp magazine’s presence at: http://www.bphope.com/ ]

I’ve passed this along to you because I suffer from angry depression and have since I was very young. It defined me for most of my life. Today, it is one of the leading indicators that alerts me to how I’m doing. For example, if I’ve been doing reasonably well and suddenly I’m bitchy with my mom for no reason, I’d better take a look at myself and see if I’m sliding down the sheer walls of the well of depression. For me, it might also indicate that I’m manic. I don’t think it only happens to me when I’m depressed. If I’m unreasonably angry and I’m aware of it, I can examine myself and see where things are going wrong. When I’m in the midst of an episode it can be hard to recognize that things are going badly. Sometimes the anger is a wake-up call alerting me that something is amiss. Sometimes I become aware of that anger by seeing what it does to those I love.

Bipolar – TV

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tvI want to believe that although I have Bipolar Disorder, depression, GAD, PTSD, ADHD and so on I can still be successful.

I want to live an active and full life. Much of the time I convince myself that I can’t do that. I look at my situation and I conclude that if I haven’t started living by this time in my life, that maybe I won’t ever have the life that I want. It’s tempting to fail myself and believe that.

One of the reasons that I sit static in my living room and don’t try to actively change my life is that I watch TV all the time. It is on all the time. I used to listen to music. Now it’s just the TV. As long as I have that continuous stream entering my brain I don’t use it for anything else. It’s so easy to be a spectator.

During school I finally admitted to myself that I was having a hard time doing my homework because it was on all the time. As much as I’d like to think that I can focus effectively on other things while the it is on, it isn’t true.

It’s hard to turn off the TV. It’s my companion. Right now, remarkably, it’s off. I’m listening to classical music on my phone. I’m trying very hard not to watch one of the many shows I have DVR’d. I’m practicing having it off so when school starts next week I’ll be more likely to switch it off while I’m doing homework. I’m sure that I’ll have an easier time doing the work if the TV isn’t invading my brain.

It also keeps me from dealing with myself. I can ignore the fact that I’m not dealing with my ongoing anxiety because I’m occupied with the TV.

I need to have quiet time so I can think. I don’t think well while the TV is on. Heck, I don’t think much at all when it’s on.

I’m finding that I’m having a hard time with this post. It feels disjointed and awkward. Maybe that’s because my companion is silent and I can really hear what I’m thinking. Maybe. I’ve been thinking about having the TV off for some time now. I’m impressed with myself that it is off. There is so much more interesting and important stuff for me to feed my brain with than TV. I’m not saying TV is bad. I’m just saying that when it is the only thing going on in my head it’s a problem.

A man (I can’t recall who) wrote that he used to go into a room every day with a pen and paper and shut himself inside and just think. He didn’t see people; he didn’t read anything. He just thought. I remember when I first read that I thought it was an amazing idea. I practiced it for a while, then, I went back to filling my brain with static.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep them so I don’t make them. However, right now seems like a good time to change my behavior. I’ve pinpointed a problem: I don’t think. I listen to the TV.

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) wrote: “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I’ve always liked that quote. Thinking… that’s a problem. My medications help a lot. Counseling has helped too. My counselor has helped me identify problem thinking and correct it. (Napoleon Hill quotes)

What’s next? Well, my brain is full of what I put into it or what I allow to be put into it. I allow someone else to put their content in it the whole time the TV is on, which is most of the time I’m awake.

The solution seems easy doesn’t it? Turn the TV off. Easy.

Right now… the TV isn’t off.

I’ve learned a lot. Time to change. I should turn it off. I should–

Bipolar – Never Far Away

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I reached a stasis point, a time of going to neither depressed nor manic poles. I thought I was emotionally cramped or stunted. So, as I’ve said, my med provider and I decided to lower my Latuda to 80mg. It’s been about three weeks now and I can say without a doubt that I’m swinging again and in a bad way. I just called one of my daughters (I asked my family to watch me) and she said she’d noticed something had changed too and was wondering if that’s what was up.

Of course, I denied it. I realize now (30 minutes later) that I was protecting myself. I’ve worked for so hard for so long to be stable I didn’t want to admit that I’d have to up my medication again. I wanted to believe I could do this, be normal on my own.

I guess I feel like if I can’t be “normal” I won’t have really lived, I won’t really have given to my world or amounted to anything. I think those thoughts and feelings are always beneath the “calm” exterior of my well medicated self. It’s frustrating.

I’ve gone back to school so I can get a job. I’m 54 and I’m just going to school for a career now. It makes me so sad. See, the depression is coming like a vengeful lover, rough and dark.

If I’m already behaving “mean” towards my daughter and feeling depressed and like I’m about to have a fight I guess I’m not ready to be on a lower dose of my Latuda. So, it’s either go back up or change to something else. I’ll need to call the nurses line tomorrow and see if I can talk to my med provider as soon as I can. This isn’t the kind of thing that I should just wait until my next visit to handle.

Tomorrow I also see my counselor. We definitely have something to talk about.

Today I saw my pain management specialist. She ordered an MRI of my lower back. For some reason no one has ever had one done. I would have thought that having me on pain medications as long as I’ve been on them that someone would have had one done, but I can’t find it if they did.

Well, my new reality and I are going to read for a few minutes and then go to bed.

Be safe my friends.

Bipolar – Trying to Write

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nanowrimoI’m attempting to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year (NaNoWriMo). My eldest daughter went to one of the kick off meetings and she learned about a woman who she told me about The woman used her homework (she too was going to college) as her novel (her word count) so she could get the minimum word count every day. My goal is 2,000 words a day. I hope that between homework, this blog, and other random stuff I end up writing, I’ll be able to do it. So far so good. I only need to write a poem today. Well, not exactly a poem, more a sonnet form I write while wondering around campus. I go to the University of Washington at Tacoma. I’m a junior and I’m studying communications.

This (writing) is a huge stress for me. I first started trying to do NaNoWriMo five years ago. I’ve never made it out of the first week. I consider myself a writer so that’s always stuck in my craw. When it comes to making up a story, I just get stuck. I’ve written a few short stories, you know, like fan fiction, but I’ve never written anything longer. Oh I take that back. When I was about 18 or 19 I wrote an entire Star Trek fan fiction novel. That was way back in the days before fan fiction was really a thing.

Do you know what fan fiction is? Fan fiction or fanfiction is about characters or settings from works of original fiction by the creators of say, a TV show, created by fans of that work. An example might be the television show Buffy the Vampire. Fans of Buffy love the show and characters so much that they write original fiction set in the Buffy universe with the characters from the Buffy universe to add to the Buffy universe stories they’d like to see take place. Perhaps they want two characters to fall in love or maybe to fight. Maybe they want to kill a character off or want a different story line to happen. Or maybe they’d like to introduce a new original character of their own to the universe.

It’s easy to see that people who write fan fiction love what they’re doing. I found that writing it gave me an emotional release that I would not have otherwise have had.

Emotional release – Maybe that’s a good reason for me to start writing it again. I’m not sure I’m in love with a television show enough right now to do that. It requires an intimate knowledge of the show (it can also be novel or other form of story) so I’d have to familiarize myself with shows much more than I currently am.

I’m already super busy with school so while I’ve thought about writing one, I just don’t think I have time to write a full blown story. Although, they do have what is called a “one off” where the fan fiction author only writes a short story that can be just a few hundred words and is self-contained… it is just a few paragraphs and usually is something that occurred to the author that they wanted to share but that wasn’t going to be a long story. A “one off”.

If you’re looking for a place to channel your emotional overflow, perhaps you might consider writing some fan fiction. You remember the book/movie “50 Shades of Grey”? Fan fiction. Yeah.

Fan fiction can be for any age or in any genre. It can be happy or filled with angst. If you join a website like fanfiction.net you can classify your story by age group, genre, and type of story. So if you write a story that is G rated, you can rate it G. If you have lots of sex and violence you rate it M for just mature audiences.

Fanfiction.net has these categories: anime/manga, books, categories, cartoons, games, movies, plays/musicals, TV shows, and other misc. things you might think of. Check it out.

When I was married, depressed, at home with a baby and very lonely, I found fan fiction and subsequently spent many hours reading it while my husband, who was a tub boat captain and rarely home, was gone. It got to the point where I was so unhappy with I couldn’t wait to get back into the world of my current favorite fan fiction. It was an easy and free escape. Sometimes I read it on line, but back then (1993 or so) I printed a lot with my dot matrix printer so I could take care of Jessica and still read my stories. It may have saved my sanity for a while.

I highly recommend you check it out. Some is written very well, some not so much. You can even review the stories.

As a momentary escape from your daily stress, depression or whatever I recommend you try it out. You might it helpful. You might actually find yourself wanting to write some.

Bipolar – Learning to Live with Anxiety

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Bipolar anxiety is no joke. I already live with a wicked mix of depression and mania and when you add to that general anxiety, well, I feel like I might just be out of luck. I was. For several months the pressure in my brain was so bad that I could hardly talk. I couldn’t get myself to go to the new grocery store near the house I’d just moved into by myself. Week after week I convinced my kids to go to the store with me even though we didn’t live together.

It couldn’t last forever. I knew I’d have to go to the store alone one day soon. None of the counseling was helping. I was walking and playing with my dog. That wasn’t helping. I was eating and cut caffeine out of my diet. Nothing. I took all my meds as prescribed every single day and I stopped taking my Ritalin—just in case it made some small difference. I started trying to meditate and practice mindfulness to no avail.

If you feel like you’re holding on for dear life… you are. Don’t let go. It can get better.

I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I was overcome with despair.

I started taking Gabapentin and my symptoms got worse. My face developed Turrets like symptoms. They were violent and I was biting my tongue and cheeks. I couldn’t talk normally. I was scared. I know that ticks caused by medications can quickly become permanent.

I couldn’t get into see my doctor or my med provider. I was starting a new term in college and I was freaking out. I’m still trying to relearn how to learn. I went to community college some 30 years ago. It’s difficult.

I talked with the triage nurse on the phone since I couldn’t get in to talk to anyone. She told me to stop taking the Gabapentin immediately.

Then the med provider told me to take my chill pill twice a day if I needed to and to go back on the Ritalin at least once a day. Slowly, day by day, and doing all the other things I was already doing to help myself, I started to calm down. The Gabapentin scare really freaked me out. I thought I was losing my last hold on reality. I felt like an alien, unable to breathe the air around me.

I suffer from chronic back pain and I’m see a new pain management doctor now. While all this was going on she was treating me like she was going to take away my pain meds because she thought I was abusing them… which I wasn’t. They just counted the pills wrong. Not my fault. That added a massive amount of stress to me too.

Today I go to the grocery store—when I’m totally out of everything, but at least I go. I’m not freaking out about school, not yet anyway. And I’m finally sleeping a little better.

Then I was in a car accident on my way to a school event. Side swiped. My car is totaled. I like my car. It’s a good car. I know I won’t get enough money from the insurance company to get one as good as this one. Stress. Anxiety. Take a pill. Remember what it feels like to calm down. Never abuse my meds. Especially not my chill pill or my pain pills.

It’s time for me to do homework now. I stress and have anxiety over homework. I’ll take a chill pill and wait for it to work before I sit down to do some serious writing.

Anxiety is like a beast that has already pounced and has its claws plunged clean through you. Believe me when I say that the claws can be removed. It is slow and painful, but it can be done. So don’t give up. There’s hope for you too.

Bipolar – Hiding in the Mattress

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(Murdoch is the yellow one and Thea is the one cuddling his tummy.)

My daughter and I (she’s 24 and recently separated from the military) just finished driving from Tampa, FL to Seattle, WA. It was a very long drive. Just to test our resilience, we brought her two companions who happen to be cats. He is Murdoch and she is Thea. Along the eleven-day journey we stayed all our nights in Best Western hotels so Jessica could get points and a gift card (cash) for staying with them.

The first night things went well. The cats had behaved in their kennel (both in the same one) the whole drive which we kept short the first day to test how they would behave in the car. Thea used to get sick just going to the vets so we had some concerns.

The second night and all nights after that first drama-less night Murdoch freaked out every time we let him out of the kennel. He would immediately head for the nearest bed and dive behind it and up in it. This wasn’t a problem the first night because he couldn’t get into the box spring. After that first night the story was different.

Did you know some Best Westerns don’t even put a mesh on the bottom of their box spring mattresses? I know that won’t matter to the vast majority of people, but when traveling with frightened cats it matters a great deal. Murdoch would find the nearest box spring and climb right up inside.

Boom! Cat stuck inside the bed. At one hotel we had to get duct tape to patch all the holes that were in the mesh. Just about the whole thing had to be taped to keep him out.

Why was Murdoch behaving in such a strange way? He was scared out of his wits. We had to keep him on a leash on his harness to keep him around and get him to eat and drink. Needless to say he lost weight by the end of the trip. I think it’s safe to say that if cats can be depressed Murdoch was very depressed. He hid in the safest place he could find, inside the box spring. Twice we had to have hotel maintenance lift the mattresses for us so we could fish him out.

What does this have to do with Bipolar? It’s simple really, sometimes I feel just like he did and I try to find a place to hide in the way back corner where I can be lost in the dark and be safe and alone. Ever feel that way?

Like Murdoch, I have people in my life who will find me and pull me out of my dark, “safe”, corner. I’m learning that facing my fears is less costly to me emotionally and mentally than if I ran and hid in the mattress from them.

Murdoch never got over his fears and hid on the whole trip. Now that he’s here in his new home he’s still a fraidy-cat. We thought both cats had gotten out of the apartment, but it turned out they were hiding on the top of the kitchen cabinets. Talk about scaring us!

I’m making it a goal as I approach another quarter at university and settling into my new home in town to try to stay out of the dark places where I can hide.

To be healthy and move forward I need to be able to face daily challenges and disruptions regardless of the size they may be. One way I can face them, is to resist retreating to my hidey-hole which is something I find challenging and sometimes seems impossible.

Today I choose to stay in the light and not run. My daughter’s things arrive tomorrow and she’ll be moving out (she’s been staying with me while waiting for her things to be shipped cross country). I’ll be alone again. I’m trying to get used to being alone after living with others since 1989. I want to hide in the mattress, but I’m going to try really hard not to.

Do you ever feel that way?

Bipolar – Tried and Tested

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A few weeks ago I flew from Seattle, WA to Tampa, FL to meet up with my daughter who just got out of the Air Force and needed someone to drive with her and her cats from Tampa to Seattle. It took us 11 days driving and 10 nights in hotels to get home. Considering my anxiety issues and susceptibility to fall victim to depression and mania of my bipolar condition, I expected to have problems. I expected to have anxiety driving and staying overnight in strange places. I expected to react to my daughter’s anxieties regarding leaving the military and changing her whole life around impacting me.

I took my meds. I got enough sleep at night. I ate and drank enough to keep my body functioning at a healthy level. I didn’t get a lot of exercise unless you count the times we stopped to sightsee at places like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and Yellowstone.

It was somewhat stressful having to do everything around the cats. We couldn’t just leave them in the car and go sightseeing. They’d die. To see Yellowstone, we stayed in a hotel for two nights so we could leave the cats in the air conditioned room for the day.  Unfortunately, the closest Best Western (where we stayed so we could get points and rewards) was in Idaho Falls over an hour and a half away. My daughter is a lightweight and could only drive about two hours before she was too tired to drive so I did almost all the driving. I expected that to stress me out.

Being hypomanic has some advantages, like being able to drive for hours and hours and staying alert.

My daughter is staying with me for a few days while her apartment gets prepared. Her cats are staying there. Her stuff should be here Friday. The military shipped all her stuff up here for her. It’s nice to have her here. I wasn’t looking forward to being with her 24/7 and then suddenly not being with her. She’s a comfort to me and she’s also my best friend. I think the trip drew us closer together. That’s cool.

I’m trying to get back into unpacking my things from my move and I’m finding it hard. I don’t know where to put things. I’m trying for at least a box a day which seems like it’s not enough.

Now that I’m home my back has started hurting again. I wake up stiff and in pain, and after sitting on the sofa for a while the same thing happens. I’m finding that stressful. I have a brand new mattress.

I see my counselor tomorrow. She’s new to me. I’ve seen her twice I think. I don’t like the whole process of being evaluated and the counselor making a plan to make me better. I don’t want to go at all, but I have to, to be able to get my meds. Maybe she can help me with my anxiety problems. They seem to be the biggest issues I have right now.

Life is returning to its new normal which is strange and different and I’m trying not to be depressed.

Bipolar – Preparing for Potential Fears

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I’m leaving early tomorrow morning to fly from Seattle, WA to Tampa, FL where I will meet up with my eldest daughter who is leaving the military and coming home to us. She, her two cats, and I will begin our journey on Monday or Tuesday to cross this great nation of ours. While I’m gone my other kids will take care of my new house, and my dog and cat.

I have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) in addition to my Bipolar Type 1 and am currently cruising along in a hypomanic state according to one of my doctors. Being the mixed bipolar that I am I’m dancing with a little bit of depression too. I’m taking my chill pills as allowed.

I’m afraid I suppose. If you cornered me and asked me how I feel I’d say I’m afraid of all the unknowns ahead of me and of what will happen at my home while I’m gone and it’s all out of my control.

These are normal fears for the most part. Some of their intensity isn’t. If you have Bipolar Disorder you understand that.

I’ve tried to be as prepared as I can be so I can sit and relax this afternoon and not rush around looking for things that should already be packed. I finally got enough Lamactical to last me the whole trip. That was a panic for a few days waiting for the pharmacy to do its thing and have them ready for me.

Probably my greatest fear is of losing my medications.

My family will come together and take care of things here. My daughter and I travel well together so I’m not worried about that. Well, I’m not sure about the cats. They don’t travel well. It may very well be noisy and smelly. But if I lose my meds or the pill boxes get opened I’ll be stuck. I take some controlled substances that just can’t be replaced.

I’ve talked about fear in the past. I’m experiencing fear right now. I’m not afraid of the flight this time so much as I am about the drive from the freeway into the parking garage. I’ve never seen such dangerous driving conditions. Last time it took us an hour or more to go half a mile. Forget about getting to the airport two hours early for the security check in… it might take us an hour to get from the freeway to the parking garage. I’m afraid of the drive and being late because of it.

After that I’ll have the potential of being afraid of the flight, after I consider being afraid of not finding my flight on time.

Lots of potential fears are in my near future. This will be a good opportunity to test myself and see if what I say to do actually works.

I choose today to believe in myself. I choose to believe that we’ll get to the airport safely and all the way to Tampa without a hitch. I choose to believe that all will be well at home and our journey will be a grand adventure. (I’m glad some hotels allow animals.)

I choose to believe in myself and that I’m sane and a terrific person. I believe I can cope with the situations ahead of me and I will do the things that I have learned to do to make that happen.

The truth will out.