Is It the Holidays or Am I Just Blue?

When it comes to the holidays and how I feel emotionally from my various mental health disorders (chiefly my bipolar, but also my anxiety, PTSD, and other issues), sometimes it is hard to tell what is responsible for what. On the one hand, I have been down for several days now but on the other hand, it’s Christmas Eve today and I’m having a hard time telling if I have the holiday blues or the depression blues.

This morning, all I wanted to do was sleep. I had to drag myself out of bed to take care of the pets and then to get ready to go to the church I work at to perform a duet with my little cousin in the Christmas Program. This should have been a really fun event for me as I adore my cousin and I have always loved playing my flute. But instead I was trying not to look as tired as I was and I was really trying to fight off a panic attack that was threatening to rear its ugly head.

Now, I am back home and all I want to do is go to sleep. But I know that that will affect my ability to sleep tonight and that my sleeping to avoid life and to avoid being awake and dealing with my emotional state is not the best way to go about things. So, here I sit, watching a horror movie (my personal favorite genre), trying to stay awake and get some work done today. I guess we will see how it goes today as I am on my own until tomorrow. Hopefully, things will work out for the better and I can get some work done in spite of this depression.

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I’d Rather Be Asleep

When I am depressed, and I mean really depressed, being awake is a constant struggle. Every movement that I make, even the slightest shift in position is like it takes all of the effort in the world. I have three dogs and taking them outside or feeding them makes me feel as if I am going to collapse from exhaustion. I feel like the worst person in the world because I am so exhausted and have so little energy to devote to them or to my cats, especially since they are the only things that keep me going some days.

When I am depressed, I would rather be asleep 99.9% of the time. When I sleep, I can be anyone and anything. I don’t have to deal with the exhaustion of my daily life. I can just be. I can live the life I have always though I should. A lot of times, my dreams are like I’m in a movie. They can be intensely dramatic or scary, or funny, or romantic, but no matter what, they are always so much better than my real life with depression.

It is a horrible feeling when the “life” in your dreams is better than the life you are living, when every breath you take can feel like more work than you can bear and all you want is some relief. I feel like this is what it means to truly be suicidal or might be the feeling that precipitates the feeling of being suicidal. Because if you can’t stand to even take your dogs out in your backyard because it physically exhausts you, what can you do?

Is this a real life that I’m living if the fantasy is preferable to the reality? Is life worth living if all I want is to be asleep. A part of me knows that this feeling, like all of my periods of depression will pass, but I have been through this so many times that I have to wonder when it will ever get better. Clearly my meds are only doing so much and it might be time to make a change again. I guess after Christmas I will be putting in a call to my doctor once again.

 

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Missing One Day of Meds…

It is amazing to me that missing one day of my meds could cause so many weeks of struggle and difficulty. I fell asleep early one night after a long and exhausting day of work. And of course, I did not take my meds for anxiety and bipolar at bedtime the way I normally do.

I woke up the next morning and figured that everything would be fine as long as I took my medications normally that night (which I did). But over the next few weeks, I noticed a sinking depression that just settled in over me like a huge, heavy cloud. I couldn’t write or do my work and it was tough to even get out of bed. Suicidal thoughts came back and I didn’t know what to do or why this was happening.

I talked to my therapist about the situation and mentioned that I had missed a single dose of my medications. Immediately it was like something clicked for her. She told me that just a single dose being off could cause mood swings and that pretty soon my system would get back to normal on the meds again.

And boy was she right. I feel in control again now and I feel as though my moods have stabilized enough to get back to my work full-force and start blogging regularly again. I am feeling like me again. And I will be sure from now on that I take my meds before I lay down to rest, even if it is only 7 or 8pm.

 

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Donations to the Blog

If you would like to donate to keep this blog going, feel free, but please do not feel obligated!

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Trying to Be Thankful

When you are in the midst of a depression, holidays can be tough. And that is what is happening to me today. I am trying to feel thankful and get into the spirit of the holiday, but it is really difficult for me to do so when I feel down, unmotivated, and even have been having some suicidal thoughts. But I am a stubborn person and I am determined to at least think about what I am thankful and grateful for.

Firstly, even though I am struggling right now, I am thankful to have an amazing doctor and an incredible therapist. They are the reason I am not doing a whole lot worse than I currently am. They are keeping me moving forward, even if I don’t think I can take a single step forward sometimes. And that being said, I feel grateful for my diagnosis as well because knowing what is going on with me is a major part of the battle and I finally feel like I do have a handle on that part of things.

I am also thankful for the rest of my support system including my two best friends, my mom, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, my cousins, and even my dogs and cats. They are my heart and they will do anything for me to help me feel better and get things back on track.

I am thankful for the fact that I have a roof over my head because I know many people that struggle with mental illnesses like mine do not have that luxury. Even if I am not where I want to be right now, it is better than being on the streets.

Well, I think that is all I have for now. I hope everyone is having a decent holiday, and whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a great day!

Insurance Companies and Mental Health Meds…Ugh

Well, I have had quite the week with my bipolar disorder. I finally found a med recently that worked for me. I take meds for my anxiety that help reduce the prevalence of my panic attacks and keep me generally a little calmer. My doctor got that right on the first try (thank you Lexapro and Xanax).

However, because I was first diagnosed (not by this doctor but as a child) with unipolar depression, the medications I was initially given for my depressive side were largely ineffective. Seroquel helped me sleep but I became more deeply depressed than I have been in a long time. So, I talked to my therapist and then my doctor and switched to lamotrigine. Well, the lamotrigine made me feel extremely manic. I had excessive energy, couldn’t sleep, started spending money like crazy, and I had anxiety and panic attacks (because when I get manic, my anxiety acts up as well).

So, needless to say, I was only on lamotrigine for a few days. My doctor wanted to see me in the office again after that and we discussed everything. She decided that I might benefit from a newer drug called Vraylar. I trust my doctor completely and agreed to try the samples that she gave me. And low and behold! The medication worked. I felt better, more stable, less depressed, and I wasn’t manic. I just was. I could function.

But as my supply of samples ran low, I ran into a problem. My prescription at the pharmacy wasn’t going through because it was pending insurance approval. And insurance still has not approved it several weeks later. In fact, they have since denied the claim for my prescription because I had not tried more medications from the list they have of bipolar medications you should have to try in order to try something new and different.

I am so frustrated at the moment because the second set of samples I received will be depleted in a week and I have no idea what I am going to do. Medications that have any positive effect on bipolar disorder are hard to come by. Finding the right combination of medications can take years and will always need to be adjusted as the mind and body change but I have found something that works for me now and my insurance company is obstructing that. Changing medications at this point could cause things to get much worse, but insurance couldn’t care less.

I am stuck in a position that I know millions of people face for medications for all types of conditions and it infuriates me. People deserve better. We should be able to get the medications that we need for reasonable prices without non-medical professionals telling us we can’t get the drugs that we need. This is not an unreasonable desire and yet in this country, it seems an impossible dream. Oh well, I am ranting so I think I will wrap this up. Let me know if you have similar experiences or have your own opinions on such issues. Thanks for reading!

I Don’t Know What to Do When Depression Triggers Cannot Be Avoided

Being bipolar can be tough at times. And for me, the worst part of it is the depression. My depression gets so deep and dark that I cannot function for days, weeks, and even months at a time. And what is especially hard is when I know certain things will likely trigger a depressive episode but I can’t do anything to avoid them. This happened to me recently, specifically in my trip to see my grandparents and subsequently my dad.

My relationship with my father is not nor will it likely ever be close. He has not and will not give up drinking in order to have a healthy father-daughter relationship with me. This makes me feel horrible, to say the least, but I have to accept it and walk away as much as I can. However, he is my father and I cannot avoid him completely when he is in the same small town of 600 or so people as my grandparents.

I went up to help when my grandfather was recently hospitalized which is triggering enough for depression, seeing a strong, proud man like my grandpa in the hospital bed fighting pneumonia. Add to that my grandmother, who is the sweetest woman in the world, worried about my grandfather and suffering in her own right. These are tough things to deal with in and of themselves.

I have no problem helping care for my grandparents. In fact, I value the opportunity and every minute I get to spend with them. But when I am there I feel guilty. Guilty that I cannot do more, that I am not a good enough granddaughter, that there should be something more that I am doing for them. I drive myself crazy with self-doubt, self-loathing, and worry.

And then there is my dad, a constant source of anxiety any time I have to deal with him directly. While his attitude changed when I left to come home (earlier than I planned, by the way) and he was nicer to me, I still did not feel comfortable around him. He kept bringing up the letter I wrote to him and how we need to talk about it.

All of these factors together are a recipe for depression for me. The extreme guilt is something I have always had to deal with as long as I can remember. It leads me down a dark path where I feel as though I am worthless and should not even bother getting out of bed. On top of that, when my relationship with my father is thrown in the mix, my emotions become devastatingly low.

And so, what can I do when I know that I have to face my triggers like I did recently? So far, there is not much that I can do. I cannot always avoid my father’s side of the family. At the very least, my grandparents do not deserve that. They are kind and caring people.

But now that I’m home, I am tired, feeling foggy and fuzzy, and generally down and sad…the usual suspects when I start to get depressed. I am trying to push through it and turn things around, but I am stuck in this mood. I hope that one day I can better handle it when I have to deal with my dad. I hope I can get rid of my constant guilt one of these days. I hope, I hope, I hope. But for now, I have to ask what should I do when I cannot avoid triggers? Do any of you have effective coping mechanisms to share? Leave your comments below if you suffer from bipolar or unipolar depression and have options that work for you (besides medication, which I already take).