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Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

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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It’s been 3-1/2 years since I’ve posted here. During this time I’ve still kept rapid cycling while trying to hone my coping skills. My goal has been to achieve a state where no one would be able to tell whether I was hypomanic or depressed, always remaining highly functional. Hypomania is harder to hide because I’m very much an introvert and suddenly I’ll become more talkative, a just a bit more extroverted and I’m unable to put a lid on that. But its positive and friends and hubby like it. It’s the depressions, the black holes, the despair and pain, the negativity, suicidal thoughts, that I want to hide. I can’t dump my poison on others. They don’t know how to handle it and will back off. So I’ve learned to pretend. I’ve learned, in spite of the fatigue, to get things done and fulfill my responsibilities at home, in my volunteer job, and with our church groups that we work with. I hide as much as I can from my hubby too.

The work that goes into living as normal a life as possible when you rapid cycle and experience mostly depression can be grueling. It’s a constant evaluating, adapting and pulling up the last vestiges of strength in one’s being to always tell yourself, “I can do this one more thing” constantly as you go through a day. Or “I will go to this meeting tonight, engage with people and participate as best I can” and as a result, come home completely spent. It’s a strong discipline that has taken a few years to develop. I learned to distract myself from the mental pain and then hyper-focus on a task at hand. Meditation and prayer is a strong component too and so many more techniques. I have been relentless, a cruel taskmaster to myself, afraid that if I let up, everything will fall apart, that I would slide into the hole and not get out. That’s not acceptable.

Until yesterday.
Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist. Hubby came with me. I’ve been in a suicidal depression for nearly a week and a half. I hung on by telling myself that I would see Dr S. on Wednesday and he would help to fix everything. Instead, he took all my mood charts (I give him one each visit) going back from yesterday to two years ago, and taped them all together so the graphs lined up. He showed me that there has been progress in slowing the cycles a bit, and getting a few more level (normal) times–short, but normal. It’s been a very slow progression, but the evidence is there. He told me it will keep getting better over time, slowly, but it will.

Then my psychiatrist told me something I did not expect to hear.
We’ve known each other for 5-1/2 years–I’ve always been honest with him so he knows me well. He told me I work too hard. I’m relentless and beat myself up to do my very best–perfection. And I beat myself up when I don’t achieve my standard. I work my skills constantly to be as “normal” as possible and don’t give myself a break. Rarely will I even allow myself a 1 hour nap in even the worst of times. He said I have to stop burning myself out and allow myself to rest. Rest is important.

There is no medication change, but a new Rx:
During the worst of times, take 3 or 4 days to do absolutely nothing but rest, eat and sleep as much as I want. During the good times, take a day every week or two to do absolutely nothing.

I expressed my fear of falling in the hole if I let my guard down for 3 or 4 days. He assured me that I’ve so finely tuned myself that I would recognize it and jump back into action — not a worry. Rest is as important to my bipolar health as a good night’s sleep.

I told him that now I have something new to learn. His response: “You will. You’re a good learner. You’ve learned all the rest. You’ll do it, and quickly too.

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