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Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

I’m alone again. My husband is out playing pickleball and will come home at lunchtime.

I find myself alone often. I don’t mind it usually. It’s time I get to do whatever I want or need to get accomplished without interruption. When I do mind is when I am depressed. I need to stay focused and not allow my mind to wander off into negativity. Negative thoughts feed negative moods and negative moods breed more negative thoughts. It’s a cycle that must be broken and managed or it could possibly lead to a crisis. That’s not a place I want to visit again so I am vigilant in controlling my thought life.

I find nurturing my spiritual life very helpful: reading my Bible, reading Christian books, listening to podcasts, praying and attending church. God’s principles for my thought life and everyday living bring me stability.

I’m working on eating healthfully and trying to lose weight. I know this, in the long run, will help me feel better physically and can also have a positive effect on my mood. Exercise is something I want to do but find difficult to motivate myself due to pain in my hips and hands.   Fibromyalgia and arthritis are the culprits. I tried playing pickleball—I gave it a really good effort for a couple of months—but I was in terrible pain when I got home. Getting up from a seated position was painful and difficult and walking was painful. My right hand was in more pain than usual from holding the racquet. I’d love to share that sport with my husband and the other players who are very nice people but I also want to be able to walk without feeling like I’m crippled. I also don’t want to be waking up several times during the night due to pain. Lack of sleep and Bipolar do not make a good mix. It could trigger a mood swing.

I’m trying to work up the motivation to start walking outdoors again. This is a good time to start as the weather is starting to cool down. I’d like to work up to 30 or 40 minutes 5 times a week. Exercise is an important part of keeping a stable mood. It helps the body produce endorphins and other neurotransmitters that have a positive effect on stability. Plus getting out and moving has a positive effect physically and improves endurance.

I don’t know how much any of this will work towards turning my condition around so I can live pain free again, but it will help towards preventing it from progressing. I want to live my best life and I know I have to work for it.

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What I am about to share is my perspective on life and how it helps me.  I’ve not shared this with you before but it’s had a big impact on me lately and I though I should share what is the core of what helps me with my bipolar life.

I’ve been reading a book with a friend called “Crazy Love” by Frances Chan. It’s about God’s great love for us. The book starts out showing us how infinitesimally small we are compared to the vast universe, that God created the universe and how small it is compared to Him. So now try to imagine how small we are compared to God yet he cares about us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life with him after we die on this Earth. All He wants is my love and obedience, that I should worship Him instead of my stuff and accomplishments. My power to achieve is feeble compared to God’s. And it is He who gave me the abilities I have to accomplish anything. So who do I think I am when I get all proud and puffed up about my achievements and leave God out of the equation. In fact sometimes I forget about Him altogether.  I walk around planning where I am going to, how I will make a living, how  I will go about my business as though I am going to live forever with no thought about the possibility I could die tomorrow or even today. The Bible describes our life as a vapor, here now and gone in an instant.

A question posed in the book Is why do we get stressed and anxious. If we truly trust God is all-knowing and all-powerful then why do we get stressed and anxious. The answer is simple–I’m  still trying to control my life in my own power which is sorely lacking.  I need to get off of the throne of my heart and let God take His rightful place there. He will give me the order I need in my life. He will display His power in me and through my life.  The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. I have nothing to fear.

The major part of my anxiety is induced by my illness, bipolar disorder. It’s sort of a chemical short-circuit in my brain affecting my moods causing them to be extremely high or extremely low with anxiety thrown in as well. My doctor was able to help control the mood swings and anxiety with meds. Any anxiety I experience beyond that is my own making and I have to give it to God and trust Him to help me in every situation.  And He does.
Only His strength is sufficient for me, my own strength is feeble. I’m glad to have God as my rock and He has blessed me with so much. I have a faithful, loving and supportive husband, three wonderful sons, two wonderful daughters-in-law and two precious grandsons. I have a church family who loves me just the way I am. I know that I am truly blessed in a myriad of ways.
It’s been a long day. We left home at 10:00 am to go to church. After church we did some food shopping. We didn’t get home until almost 4:00 pm. The depression seems to be lifting. It’s been a good and productive day.

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It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I am balancing precariously on the brink of depression. We had one of our sons visiting for two days, which was a joy to me. Then, on Thanksgiving Day we all drove to our oldest son’s home and spent the day with him, my daughter-in-law, our two grandsons and their family friend. It was a wonderful day and exhausting. I had been up at 6:00 am to cook our contributions to the feast. Then we left at 9:30 am to travel to our son’s place. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and an exhausting one at the same time. We didn’t arrive back home until nearly 9:00 pm.

This morning I woke up emotionally exhausted which also leaves me feeling physically exhausted. I am experiencing a dip in mood treacherously balanced on the edge of falling into a depression. This, after being hypomania and depression free for two years and 3 months, feels like a fairly new experience again. I haven’t thought much about the pain and agony of depression for a long time. What I know is that if I dwell on what I am feeling for too long I give it fuel to grow into a full-blown episode. I remember enough that I know I don’t want to go there again.

Right now, my body is craving sleep and I slept eight hours last night. There is no reason for me to need more sleep. I also have fleeting thoughts of wanting to die which alerts me to the fact that if I’m not careful I’ll slip into a dangerous black hole of despair.

So what am I to do in response to what I am feeling? I’ll put on some Christmas music and push myself to get a few things done around the house. Then I’ll take out a few things that are comforting to do to pass the time like doing puzzles, coloring, making tangle patterns, crocheting or playing my guitar. By that time my husband should be back home and this morning, before he left, he suggested we go out for lunch or dinner. I don’t feel like it but I know once we are out that it will be a nice distraction. During the evening, I’ll either get lost in a book (if I can concentrate) or the TV.

I’m not as worried about it as I used to be. I know it will pass and I know what to do about it. I’ll use the time to glean what nuggets of wisdom I can from the experience and keep myself moving forward at whatever pace feels comfortable. What I will not do is burden myself with guilt or stress because of it.

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Today is very special. It’s our anniversary. My husband and I have been married for 44 years. He stuck by my side through the best and worst of times. He’s a gem.

During the worst of times, when my bipolar was out of control, I didn’t feel I deserved him. I felt I was ruining his life. I wished I could die so he’d be rid of me and wouldn’t have to put up with my roller coaster moods anymore. During the worst depressions I would often think of ending my life. I figured that he would hurt for a while but then he’d realize that he was free from living through my hell with me. I tried to shield him from my moods but he could read me.

There were four occasions where I actually planned how to commit suicide and was ready to go through with it. I had promised my husband, that should that day come, I would tell him. I kept my word on each occurrence and he took me to the hospital for help. The last time was the charm—the doctor in that hospital put me on a combination of meds that nearly eliminated the cycling moods. The hypomanias have been eliminated completely. The depressions are now very few and shallow. They are pretty easy to control and keep from escalating. It’s been two years now and I’m still doing very well.

My husband fought this battle right beside me. He never gave up even when I wanted to. Communication was the key in our getting through it. He kept me talking and sharing what I was feeling and going through even when I didn’t want to but wanted to shut down. Those talks gave me the strength to dig deeper for tools to overcome and push through.

I know there are a lot of people out there with bipolar who feel alone, unlovable and that you will never know what it feels like to be well again. That is the greatest lie this disorder can tell us. It is the depression talking. It’s also the frustration talking. If you have a family member or close friend who you can talk to, share what you experience with him or her but initially do it when you are in a semi-controlled state if you can. You’ll be less emotional and make more sense. Our loved ones can’t help us if they don’t understand. The only way they can get a sense of what bipolar or depression is like is if we share and give them the information so they can learn. Direct them to websites that educate about bipolar. Let him or her come to an appointment with your psychiatrist for therapist so s/he can ask questions and learn. We need all the help we can get otherwise it’s a long and lonely journey.

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I’m tired. Tired to the core. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had two nights of a solid 8 hours of sleep. The weariness paralyzes me from tackling any big chores around the house. I know depression is knocking at my door but hasn’t quite taken a full hold on me yet. The lack of energy and inability to act on my motivation to get things done is a warning that depression is on my doorstep and is waiting to make an entrance. It’s frustrating because there is so much I want to get done. I have a basic weekly routine and I’m unable to follow it today. So I will work on the little things with the hope that my inertia is brief.

There is a tendency for me to feel guilty for my lack of accomplishment but I keep telling myself that at least I can pay attention to the smaller details for now, getting the house tidier than it already was. The big things will get done tomorrow or in the near future. This is a battle I don’t need to beat myself up over. Guilt accomplishes nothing but fostering a lack of self worth and I don’t want or need that.  I’ll be kind to myself, do what I can, and wait for better days.

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I’ve been well for two years now with just 2 or 3 slight dips in mood. I handled the dips well and they didn’t escalate into desperately depressed episodes. What I am desperate for is something to do since I am retired, have too much time on my hands and I don’t think I can handle the stresses of a full or regular part-time job.

Before my last deep, dark episode 2 years ago, I was volunteering for Hospice doing data entry for 4 hours once a week and I liked my job. I did it very well. While I was sick in the hospital, my husband called in for me telling my supervisor I was ill and I wouldn’t be back. I didn’t have any interaction with people there but I liked my work. My husband and therapist felt that having no interaction wasn’t healthy and maybe they were right. But now that I’m doing so well, I am desperate for something productive to do. I have too much time on my hands.

I tried volunteering at the Sheriff’s office doing fingerprinting. I had a 4-hour shift one day a week. The problem was that only one or two people came in to be fingerprinted during my shifts. Sometimes no one showed up. I would have to sit there doing crossword puzzles since they didn’t have any other work for me to do. I was bored out of my skull. I quit after only a few months.

I also tried helping out at our church office one morning a week answering the phone and doing some copying. I thought it would be fun but it was boring—no people interaction since I was covering for staff while they were in a meeting every week. I stopped signing up for hours (there were a few ladies who volunteered).

For a while I would go to the church café on Friday mornings and help six or seven older ladies stuff bulletins for the coming Sunday’s service. I was bored. The ladies were (and are) very nice people but the work was boring and the interaction didn’t grab my attention.

A number of years ago, I tried working at the animal shelter socializing the cats. The dander bothered me so I had to quit that.

My husband and former therapist felt I should sign up for classes at Joanne’s Fabric Store.   They have classes to make jewelry, knitting, decorative painting, crocheting and sewing. They even give occasional classes on cake decorating. The classes are one or two sessions long, are for beginners, which I would be one, but once you’ve taken the class where is the support to improve your skills at your newfound hobby?   Learning to knit hats and scarves in Florida is not practical. A sweater would be but you’d need an advanced class to learn the skills to do that and they aren’t offered. You need to pay for these classes plus the tools and materials. I don’t see the point in shelling out the money when the classes are so limited and I can’t completely learn a skill. Decorative painting sounds nice but you have to buy the items you want to paint plus the various brushes, the paint and the varnish/sealer. It’s expensive and I don’t have room in my house for clutter—I have everything I need—I live simply. You can only make so many gifts for people before it becomes clutter for them too.

So this is my dilemma: what do I do with my spare time? I can only clean my house so much. Once it’s clean it’s clean. There are only 2 of us so it doesn’t get too mussed up or dirty. I need something fairly stress free since stress is a trigger for anxiety which is a trigger for a mood swing.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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How do I cope with bipolar, depression and anxiety? One way is through writing. Through writing I can examine m feelings, symptoms, my successes and failures. I can keep a running record of my mental health journey by keeping a journal. It helps me in three ways:

  1. I am able to vent my feelings
  2. It provides a record of how my condition is affected by my inner and outer world
  3. It helps me to recognize my triggers.

My journal serves as a mirror of my progress as I navigate life. I notice what triggers a depressive or hypomanic episode. Sickness often triggers a depressive episode.   Sleep deprivation can trigger either way but for me it’s usually depression so I go to bed and wake up the same time everyday.  Too many social events or traveling too often in a short span of time can trigger anxiety. And that’s where I have to be careful—anxiety can trigger a depressive episode. My meds don’t let me experience hypomania anymore in this past year. I’ve recorded coping skills, what works and what doesn’t. I keep a daily mood graph for my psychiatrist where I chart not only my moods but also sleep, activities and meds changes. It gives a truly well rounded view of my progress and triggers.

Both the writing and mood charting help keep me self-aware. I try to always be aware of any changes in my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being, both positive and negative. The sooner I am aware of a negative change the sooner I am able to able to deal with it to ward off a full blown mood swing. If my thinking is becoming negative I consciously begin to think positively. I’ll avoid situations that cause me excessive stress or anxiety when possible. Meditation and prayer are a big positive factor for me. I find solace in reading the Bible. Music often lifts my spirit. Talking with my husband will often help me maintain a positive perspective.

Keeping a positive outlook and living intentionally go a long way to helping me manage my mental health.

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