My PCOS Diagnosis and My Mental Health

One of the things I do not talk about much is the year that I had in 2017 in terms of my health. 2017 was the year that I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, months before my bipolar diagnosis, I was also diagnosed with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome.

PCOS was actually a tougher diagnosis for me than bipolar disorder. Why? Because PCOS affects just about every aspect of my life and health, including my moods. One of the toughest discoveries with PCOS was that I was likely infertile.

I already had trouble with fertility before, but this diagnosis was pretty much the nail in the coffin of me becoming a mother. With my medical history and the fact that I would need expensive treatments to give myself a chance at fertility, I pretty much had to resign myself to never being a mom.

What I did not realize was how much this was going to affect my moods. I got deeply depressed with my PCOS diagnosis. While I had always suspected that I might not be able to have children, having that fact confirmed was another story entirely.

Knowing that I won’t be having children (because I cannot afford fertility treatments and am not risking my life savings on a slim chance of success), made me not only sad, but it also made me question what my life means or should be. I began to have suicidal thoughts and to wonder if I should even exist anymore.

Luckily, I was in therapy and was able to deal with my depressive episode. However, what I have found now that I have been also diagnosed with bipolar is just how much these conditions affect one another. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include depression, fatigue and tiredness, anger and agitation, brain fog, anxiety, and mood swings. Basically, PCOS can cause a bunch of issues that I already have with bipolar disorder.

This makes managing my moods especially difficult. It is never certain whether my symptoms come from my bipolar disorder or my PCOS. And, of course, PCOS is only so manageable. The physical symptoms can be partially dealt with through medications, but not completely. And those treatments only do so much for the mood issues that come along with PCOS.

As such, even with bipolar meds, I can feel depressed, foggy, or any number of other symptoms. And I think that these issues from PCOS can trigger my bipolar depressive episodes for sure, maybe even my hypomanic episodes. After all, when my hormones are off-balance, it stands to reason that my brain chemistry could also be affected.

Anyway, I want to explore the relationship between my PCOS and my bipolar disorder further in coming posts, but for now this is a basic explanation of some of what goes on with me and my mental health. Anyone else dealing with these two issues together? Any thoughts? Share your thoughts and comments below. Thanks so much for reading!

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My Life…

My life has been a crazy series of ups and downs as of late. It all started with med changes forced by insurance and has just catapulted from there. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, and I’ve been really down.

I’ve moved. I’m trying to revamp my writing career, and I am trying to figure out what my priorities are. Everything is up in the air right now and chaotic. And as those of you with bipolar disorder know, being out of control and in chaos is never a good thing. I am just waiting for that other shoe to drop right now as everything is teetering on the edge.

I am going to be contributing to this blog at least once a week. And I also recently started a Patreon page so that readers here can contribute to my blog if they deem it worthy of continuing. I would appreciate any support people are willing to give. Even $2 a month can help to keep me writing here instead of focusing my efforts elsewhere.

Anyway, with everything being so tumultuous lately, I have a lot that I can talk about in the days to come. Look for another post within the next week and hopefully continued weekly or biweekly posts from then on. Thanks as always for reading. And feel free to leave any comments or suggestions for topics.

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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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!

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.

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.

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.

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 family and do not want to.

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 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).