bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Posts tagged ‘depression’

Increase Your Self-Esteem!!! Not.

I admit that I want to still add “not” to the end of a remark that is so off-base. But that is so 90s. (or 80s. whichever it is, it is passe.)

When I was in the outpatient program at Edgewood after my trip to the loony bin, the counselor there suggested I read and complete the book Ten Days to Self-Esteem by  Dr. David D. Burns. In fact several of the clients were carrying one around.

It’s kind of like a workbook. And, if you did a lesson a day, then, supposedly your self-esteem skyrockets. Well, maybe not skyrocket, but increases.

Misleading premise #1. You aren’t supposed to do a lesson a day. Two a week is recommended. So now we are talking ONE MONTH to Self-Esteem. But that’s just not as catchy.

Misleading premise #2. The cover says I’ll discover the secrets of joy in daily living!  Woo hoo! Yeah, I know joy, and this ain’t it.

Misleading premise #3 (and the final one). I will learn how to defeat depression. (Wow! That’s some book!)

Now, I was truly gung-ho on doing this book. After all, who doesn’t need to boost their self-esteem? Many of you that know me personally probably think I don’t have an issue with self-esteem. Well, it’s tough to have clinical depression and feel great about yourself. (He doesn’t mention that, by the way. He really doesn’t address clinical depression. Even though, he promises to help me learn to defeat it! (see premise #3)) News flash, Dr. Burns: Defeating my depression involves a treatment program that I’m going to write a book about. Better Living through Chemicals-Lose the Embarrassment and Win Back Your Life! Lines are open 24 hours a day, and operators are standing by to take your order!

Somehow, I got off track there. I was gung-ho on doing the workbook.  I did the first chapter and actually thought it was going to be awesome! I was to fill out a survey each time about my depression, anxiety, and relationship satisfaction, and hopefully the numbers would improve.

After I was released from the outpatient program, I kind of put the book aside and did my best to start enjoying life.

Yesterday, I got the book out again, thinking, “I haven’t done anything with that book for quite awhile. I’ve got some time. Why not?”

I did the daily survey, numbers had improved, so far so good.

Then, the questions required me to “picture a time when you were sad or discouraged, blah blah blah.” Okay. I stopped for a moment. Then, I relived my past hospitalization. I started feeling worse. Next step: “List several of your bad feelings here.” (He was kind enough to provide a list for us, in case we had no idea what our feelings were.) Now, I’m sinking into a hole…But, fear not, friends! I was bound and determined to get back to feeling better! On with the next step!

The Stick Figure Technique!

(Okay, now I’m laughing at how funny that sounds. Again, Dr. Obvious came up with an idea that takes up two pages of this fascinating book!) He has a stick figure with a frown and we are supposed to make up some negative thoughts that explain why the stick figure is unhappy. Now, mind you, I took this very seriously. Then, I started to feel really crappy. Not unlike Mr. Stick Man. I pushed on. (still looking like Mr. Stick Man. But fatter.)

I turn the page to see this giant chart where I am supposed to describe a time that triggered certain emotions and what kinds of thoughts lead to that emotion. Guilt or shame, frustration, anger, anxiety, loneliness, and hopelessness and discouragement.

“I’ll take GUILT OR SHAME for 100, Alex.”

I started writing the answers for guilt or shame and could barely pick up my pen. I was feeling so down.

I slammed the book shut and said, in my best Scarlett O’Hara voice, “Tomorrow is another day!” (It was an excellent Scarlett voice, by the way.)

But, I’m not going to do the workbook another day. Who needs to relive a very painful time of their lives?

“Bye bye, self-esteem workbook! You suck.”  (Scarlett didn’t say that, but if she’d read this book, she would have.)


Writer’s Block? Not Exactly.

Authors and songwriters talk a lot about writer’s block. Well, just like my anti-anorexia (see blog of May 9, 2008…the link feature isn’t working right now, so you’ll have to go down to the right side of the page here and click on May 2008 archives), I’m having anti-writer’s block.

I have so much I want to write about that my brain is spinning. My fingers can hardly keep up with the thoughts in my head right now.

  • I want to update you on my emotional state
  • I want to tell you about a funny conversation with my psychiatrist
  • I want to relay funny/interesting stories about my latest trip to the loony bin
  • I want to relay funny/interesting stories about my time spent in out-patient therapy
  • I want to write about just regular stuff!

I don’t know what to write first! And, as I get started writing one, then five other things pop into my head.

So, I’m going to write what many of you who read this blog are apparently the most interested in.  My mental health. Maybe just getting this out will allow me to write about more topics tomorrow.

Still a roller coaster. Had a big crash on Wednesday night. Major panic attack, uncontrollable crying, guilt, you know, the usual. (Well, it is beginning to feel like the usual. (sigh))

Talked to the psychiatrist Thursday and we are still “tweaking” the meds. Increase Abilify…maybe the daily crying will stop.  Decrease the Xanax. Maybe I won’t feel like Rip Van Winkle. (I definitely don’t feel like Sleeping Beauty!)

I gotta tell you, now that I’ve been working on this for over a month (and, yes, I know it is a lifetime deal, but I hope you know what I mean), I’m getting a little frustrated AND fed up.

But, hey, Scarlett and Pollyanna, tomorrow is another day!

Maybe 6 Flags Should Hire Me

Good golly this has been some kind of week! One heck of a roller coaster. If 6 Flags hired me, I would be able to design the world’s greatest roller coaster based just on my emotions in the last month. And this last week would make anyone’s stomach flip-flop.  Ugh.

On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being outstanding, my day today is an 11.  I know!  Great news! Earlier in the week, however, I was feeling really good. Almost too good. Doctor said it was hypo-mania. Great. Then, the depression hit on Tuesday night and carried on through Thursday morning.  Blech.

I have a treatment plan that I’m working on, so hopefully, that will help me through the next couple of days. I’m still waiting on the new medication to take effect. That could happen any day now. 

So, imagine you are on this roller coaster. Right now is that freaky curve that you can’t tell where you are going next. It could be an extreme drop (not my first choice) or just a fun hairpin curve.

I’ll let you know. But for now, put those arms up in the air and at least try to enjoy the ride. (and remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.)

Counting Sheep

For the past several weeks, I’ve awakened at 3 am.  Sometimes I can go back to sleep, sometimes I can’t.  Last night, was a “no-can-do” night.  So, I got up and wandered around and did a few things for about an hour, then went back to bed.  Got up at 8:30 or so. 

One of the first things I did when I got up at 3, was to search the internet for reasons I would be awake at a somewhat consistent time.  First reason that showed up most often – DEPRESSION.  Oh, for Pete’s sake.  Seriously?  Even though I am the poster child for depression, I really don’t thing this is depression-related.  If it had been one or two nights, maybe.  But, for a month?  I really doubt it.  Plus, I don’t have any other signs.  And, believe me.  I look.

Then, there’s the theory that something is actually waking me up, but not lasting long enough to have me recognize it.  Such as a freight train going by.  Hmmmm.  Possibly.  The only way to figure that one out is to actually stay up until 3 am and see if I hear anything.  That’s a last resort.

I’m trying a new tactic.  I’m staying up later than normal.  I don’t have to get up in the morning, so I can get my regular hours of sleep in, and then we’ll see what happens. 

I called and got a new CPAP mask ordered today.  Maybe that’ll help.  When I called, the woman on the other end of the phone told me that earlier this month, a man called and said he needed new crap supplies.  She thought, “what?!?!?”  Then she realized he thought CPAP was C-R-A-P.  She said she’s heard people call the CPAP a lot of things, but this was the first time she’d heard it called “crap.”  She said she could barely stay on the line, she was laughing so hard.

So, tonight I’m trying to stay up later.  And, I’m drifting off even as I write.  Good night, friends.  I’ll catch you on the flip side.

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

I was looking for a picture to put in Mark’s yearbook today.  For $15, the parents send in a baby picture and a short message that gets printed in the back of the book.  Pretty cute.

So, as I’m looking through pictures, I had a range of emotions.  Amazed at how quickly the years have gone by.  Joy at remembering what a cutie he was.  And, guilt for the time I was not the best mom.

I am not a perfect mom now, but the pictures of Mark as a baby brought up many memories of how I really felt back then.  This before my diagnosis of depression.  Certain pictures brought back very strong emotions and memories.  In fact, I’ve had to quit looking at them for a little bit. 

I was always so tired, edgy, and just, well, depressed.  I thought that was how all moms felt.  What mom isn’t tired with a newborn?  Sure, there were happy times, but as I look at the pictures, I see one very tired mom.  I remember thinking, “This is what I thought I was meant to be?  A mom?  And, I suck at it!”  Then I got the help I needed, thank heavens.  What a difference compared to the pictures of when Karen was born.  I look like a completely different person.

Thank goodness he’s turned out just fine, so far.  I don’t foresee him ending up on Montel telling the world how messed up his mom made him.  (Of course, does anyone foresee that?  Yet, there they are, five days a week.)  God has taken care of him.  And, Tom was amazingly patient and loving.  So, it probably hasn’t messed him up too much.  But, if you see him on one of those talk shows, give me a call, would you?

I Wanna a New Drug

As Huey Lewis sang, “I wanna new drug.  One that won’t make me sick.”  I hear ya, Huey. 

In about 20 minutes, I am going to go see my psychiatrist and ask him for a change in medication.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this Cymbalta seems to be really messing with me if I even miss one dose.  I have no idea what the half-life of it is, but the brain shivers start 7 hours after the missed dose.  Kent, my therapist, doesn’t think it is possible that the Cymbalta is causing those, since it is such a short amount of time, but the data shows a different story.  Granted, I’ve only missed two doses in the last month, but both of those times, the brain shivers took over.

I have mentioned in other posts that I have tried just about every other anti-depressant on the market, and Cymbalta seemed to work just fine.  Now, though, I am willing to try ones that I have used previously, since I used them before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and therefore, prior to Lamictal.  Surely there is another drug that can boost the Lamictal for depression.

I’ll let you know.  Oh, and yes, I will be educating Dr. Rifkin about brain shivers.



Amazingly, Dr. Rifkin acted as though he had heard of brain shivers today.  Huh.  Got smarter in two weeks? 

He agreed to change my medication, so I’m going to start Prozac.  Seriously, I didn’t know anyone still took that!  He was going to give me samples of Cymbalta in order to help me gradually (and I stress “gradually”) detox my system.  It will take about 40 days.  All the while, though, I will be on Prozac as well.  Unfortunately, there were no samples of Cymbalta in the magic sample cabinet, so I have to return later this week to start weaning off the evil drug.

Help Yourself!

Today was not the greatest of days.  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that my stomach hurt, supposedly out of guilt.  (which has yet to be proven, but we’ll go with that for now.) 

This morning, I thought I was going to jump out of my skin.  That is the best way I can describe it.  Anxious.  Teetering on the edge of a cliff feeling.  Then, my stomach just hurt.  Then, I worried about why I was hurting and then worrying about it.

I kept trying to tell myself that I am not going to be “normal” anymore.  What used to be normal for me is no longer going to be.  And, what was normal then was no picnic for those around me, nor for myself, because I would always crash after a period of normalcy.  Mental illness stinks.  Calling it mental illness stinks too.

So, I had to figure out what to do to make myself feel “better.”  My upper back has been hurting (there I go again, sounding like I’m 82), so I haven’t gotten much sleep.  (DING!  Trigger time!)  So, I popped a couple of ibuprofen and took a 30 minute nap.  Woke up and felt pretty good for about, oh, 3 minutes.

Then, Bam!  Back to feeling cruddy.  So.  Now what, Michelle? 

Can’t call your mom because she is going to go out to lunch with her friend.  And, two things would happen if you called:  1)  She would take time for you, and not be as ready as she’d like to be for her lunch and 2) She’d think about you while having lunch, therefore not enjoying herself.  Now, I know you are reading this, Mom, and believe me, I did this just as much for myself today.  How cruddy would I feel if I messed up your day?  Pretty cruddy.  Let’s look at Option #2.

Option #2:  Call and talk to Dad.  Great listener, but this was going to call for more than just listening.  It would require my going over there.  And, the timing would definitely still interfere with Mom’s day, so she’d know about it, and (see option#1)  My dad rocks, and would quickly suggest we meet somewhere for breakfast/lunch.  Normally, that would be reason enough to call him.  Yum!  However, I have really been watching what I eat, and going out to eat didn’t sound good at all, and might have been counter-productive.

Option #3:  Call Tom.  Tom had a big presentation today at work.  I really try not to call him anyway, because what can he do?  He’s half an hour away.  So, my calling him makes him feel helpless and causes him to not be able to concentrate on his job.  And, I don’t have to tell you all how important having a job is.  🙂

Option #4:  (Yeah, I really did think of all these.  My mind tends to do this.)  Phone a friend.  No not Regis Philbin.  One of my many friends that has said, “Call me any time.”  Well, you all are so sweet, but there were reasons I didn’t call each of you.  Too numerous to mention, and possibly too personal.  Just know I thought of you.  😉

So, I was out of options.  But, I persevered.  I decided to go to The Happiest Place on Earth.  I know.  You think that’s Disneyland.  Well, you are wrong.  It’s Wal-Mart.  Well, it was as close as I could get in under an hour to a pretty happy place.  Plus, I needed a few items.

Well, you know how it is.  When you aren’t feeling well, things just don’t go right.  I couldn’t find my car keys.  I was sitting on them.  And, that was before I even left the house, obviously.

I hit Wal-Mart, and stuck to my list, for the most part.  Just getting out did help a little.  And, I was proud of myself for not hitting the chocolate aisle, just ripping open a package, and sitting in the middle of the aisle looking like Augustus Gloop. 

I then drove down to Lion’s Choice.  Ordered a sandwich, NO FRIES, and a diet Dr. Pepper.  Then I drove to/through Greensfelder Park and enjoyed the scenery and weather.

But, what I did next was what made me turn the corner.  Get out your notebooks, kiddies.  On my .mp3 player, I watched an episode of “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”  And, laughed and laughed.  Right there in my minivan.  After it was over, I realized I felt much better. 

Huh.  That “laughter is the best medicine” thing may have some merit after all.

Down in December

Yes, my blog site has a new look.  I liked the way it showed the snow that WordPress offers.

All right.  It’s December.  Time to prepare for Christmas.  Most of the time this is a time I look forward to, even though it can be a bit hectic.  Why don’t I feel that way now?  I figure I should check my triggers before I freak out too much.

  • sleep – decent, now that my CPAP has been adjusted.  At least 8 hours a night.
  • eating – pretty normal.  Sometimes I have to make myself eat, since I’ve been told not to skip any meals.
  • stress – (You probably wondered when I’d get to this. ) 
    • My plate is practically empty.  I haven’t committed to hardly anything.  I am acting in the church’s Christmas cantata.  It’s a role I’ve played before, and I have very few lines.  No stress there.  I’m helping out with the Sunday School Christmas program.  I’m not in charge this year, so that is a huge weight off my shoulders.  Until the stage gets set up later this week, I really don’t have anything to do, other than help Karen learn her lines.
    • Christmas shopping is completely done.   Well, except for the fact that my dad and uncle usually give me a list, and they haven’t yet, but that will be a quick run to Best Buy or Kohl’s.  I did order Karen an outfit from Aeropostale and didn’t realize it was a Ladies’ Medium, and not a Girls’.  (You know, a store should specify that when they say Girls/Guys that they don’t really mean Girls.)  Oh, well, I went back online and ordered an XXS and can return the ones I got at the store at the mall. 
    • No one is coming over for a party, get-together, cookie exchange…nothing.

So, why do I feel all Bah Humbug? 

The kids want to put up the tree (understandably), but finding a time when they would both be here wasn’t easy.  So, we set aside this afternoon to do that.  I even asked Tom to help, so it would be over quickly.  I had no interest in doing it whatsoever.  The time came to put it up.  (It’s a three-sectioned artificial one.  Pre-lit.  Could not be easier.)  Plugged it in and…yep.  You guessed it.  No lights.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  The top third was lit, but those lights were just regular strands that had been added last year when the top section wouldn’t light.  (You should know that this tree is about 10 years old, so I’m not surprised it no longer lights up all the way.)  Oh, and one small section on the bottom tier lit up.  Tom and Mark checked all the fuses.  Nope.  After a small discussion, we got in the car and went to Home Depot to buy some lights.  Sold out.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Down the road to K-Mart.  (A store that I would just about rather have someone put bamboo under my fingernails than visit.  Just don’t like it.  They never have what I am looking for.)  They had exactly 4 boxes of 100 white lights.  Yeah!  Brought them home, and Mark says, “Yeah, but they have white wires.”  Crud.  Tom asked if I wanted to put them up anyway, and I said no.  Then he asked if I wanted to go to Walgreen’s, and I said that there just wasn’t time.  So we gave up on the tree for today.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Well, of course she feels like crud.  Putting up a tree is often a source of aggravation for people.  Strings of lights are products of the devil’s workshop.”  But, the thing is, I felt like crud before the tree incident.  That was just the straw that broke the camel’s back and left me in tears.  Not tears of disappointment.  Just tears of frustration of not being able to come out of this “funk.” 

What is wrong with me?

Nope. No Tote Board Just Yet

Days have been better, but not great.  I still seem to be teetering on the edge all the time.  One little thing could push me off into tears or, for that matter, laughter.  But, tears are the most common occurance these days.  Sometimes as I sit and cry, I try to figure out if I would be crying even if I weren’t bipolar.  That’s not as easy to do, as one might think.  First of all, you are still so caught up in the moment that reason isn’t exactly knocking at your door wanting to come in.  You have to go searching for it.

Right now there are a lot of outside elements pushing in while I’m trying to create my little “normal” bubble.  And, I can’t exactly ignore them.  So, I know I have to deal with them without letting them rule my life.  Again, easier said than done.

I’ve been sleeping a lot.  Am I depressed because I am sleeping or am I sleeping because I depressed?  Ah, now that would be worth climbing the great mountain of wisdom and asking the guru sitting at the top, “So, what is up with THAT?  HUH?!?” 

I see my therapist on Tuesday, and he usually helps put things in perspective.  I think I can make it until then.  Well, I KNOW I can.  Now I know that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.

Deep Thoughts by Zuzu

I was just helping my son with his homework.  I needed a book to put my scratch paper on so I could match answers with him.  I grabbed one out of the basket by my chair.  It was called Becoming a Woman of Influence  by Carol Kent.  I picked it up at some Women of Faith conference where Carol spoke.  She is an amazing woman and a fantastic speaker.  If you ever get a chance to hear her, I highly recommend that you do.

After I finished helping him, I noticed that there was some papers sticking out of the book.  I pulled them out and they were notes from the conference.  There was a little “diddy” I had written in a corner that caught my eye. 

All sunshine makes a desert.

Wow.  I never thought of that.  No one really likes to endure tough times, but we all do.  Some have tougher times than others, to be sure.  But, what if you never had a bad day?  Would you ever appreciate the good days?  I doubt it.  I mean, do you appreciate the fact that you have a floor beneath your feet and not dirt?  Probably not.  We take it for granted.  But, if you lived in a grass hut in the darkest of Africa, you would most likely be grateful for a solid floor beneath your feet, if you ever got one.

  • A side note–My family does come inside from a hot day and announce, “Thank you, Dad, for air conditioning!”  This is something that I used to do when I was a little girl with my family.  We were so happy to come into a cool home, and knew that there were certainly people out there that didn’t have that luxury.

A song I love by Switchfoot is The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.  This song helped me through my bouts of depression and the medication games.  I still sing it when I am going through a tough time.  Think about it.  You cannot have shadows without a light source.  So even when you are down and going through a dark time in your life, you need to remember that God is still there.  God is our source of light during those times, and if he didn’t exist or had forgotten you, then there wouldn’t be a shadow.  Just darkness.

There are a lot of people out there that go through more than you or I could even imagine.  I have a friend who seems to constantly find out there is something wrong with one of her two sons.  It is never something as simple as a broken leg.  Oh no.  There are always many, many tests to be done.  Several specialists to visit, etc.  She seems to always be in a good mood.  And when you ask her how she is doing, she always says, “Oh, hanging in there!” with a smile.  Of course, if you ask her about her sons, she will tell you the latest saga.  But, from the outside, you would never know what all is going on in her life.  I once said to her, “You know how the Bible says that God will never give you more than you can handle?  Did you ever wish that you weren’t so strong?”  She laughed.

So, the next time you are feeling all dark, depressed, or down, just remember today’s quote:  ALL SUNSHINE MAKES A DESERT.  (and remember, too–“desert” has one “s” and “dessert” has two, because you always want more of it.)  Wow.  Two lessons for the price of one today!

May God bless you all.

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